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Fatma Muge Gocek

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Adolf Hitler famously (and probably) said in a speech to his military leaders "Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"  This remark is generally taken to suggest that future generations won't remember current atrocities, so there's no reason not to commit them.  The implication is that memory has something like an expiration date, that it fades, somewhat inevitably, of its own accord.

At the heart of Fatma Muge Gocek's book is the claim that forgetting doesn't just happen.  Rather, forgetting (and remembering) happens in a context, with profound political and personal stakes for those involved.  And this forgetting has consequences.

Denial of Violence:  Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians 1789-2009 (Oxford University Press, 2015) looks at how this process played out in Turkey in the past 200 years.  Gocek looks at both the mechanisms and the logic of forgetting.  In doing so she sets the Turkish decisions to reinterpret the Armenian genocide into a longer tale of modernization and collective violence.  And she illustrates the complicated ways in which remembering and forgetting collide.

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Jacob DaltonThe Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism

December 25, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Buddhist Studies] Jacob Dalton’s recent book, The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism (Yale University Press, 2011), examines violence (both symbolic and otherwise) in Tibetan Buddhism.  Dalton focuses in particular on the age of fragmentation (here 842–986 CE), and draws on previously unexamined Dunhuang manuscripts to show that this […]

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Rian ThumThe Sacred Routes of Uyghur History

December 22, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] In his fascinating new book, Rian Thum explores the craft, materiality, nature, and readership of Uyghur history over the past 300 years. The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (Harvard University Press, 2014) argues that understanding Uyghur history in this way is crucial for understanding both Uyghur identity and continuing relationships with the […]

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Alexander CooleyGreat Game, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

November 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] Central Asia is one of the least studied and understood regions of the Eurasian landmass, conjuring up images of 19th century Great Power politics, endless steppe, and impenetrable regimes. Alexander Cooley, a professor of Political Science at Barnard College in New York, has studied the five post-Soviet states […]

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Willard SunderlandThe Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution

September 4, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] The Russian Empire once extended from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan and contained a myriad of different ethnicities and nationalities. Dr. Willard Sunderland's The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014) is an engaging new take on the empire […]

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Eliza GriswoldI am a Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan

June 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Poetry] In my dream, I am the president. When I awake, I am a beggar of the world. The landay represents an oral tradition of a mostly illiterate people. It is a dirge, a calling out to, that is specific to each woman who sings it. Even within the confines […]

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Sener AkturkRegimes and Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey

June 11, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies] What processes must take place in order for countries to radically redefine who is a citizen? Why was Russia able to finally remove ethnicity from internal passports after failing to do so during seven decades of Soviet rule? What led German leaders to finally grant guest workers from […]

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Sienna R. CraigHealing Elements: Efficacy and the Social Ecologies of Tibetan Medicine

November 3, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Two main questions frame Sienna R. Craig’s beautifully written and carefully argued new book about Tibetan medical practices and cultures: How is efficacy determined, and what is at stake in those determinations? Healing Elements: Efficacy and the Social Ecologies of Tibetan Medicine (University of California Press, 2012) guides readers through the ecologies of […]

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James A. MilwardThe Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction

August 5, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asia Studies] James A. Milward’s new book offers a thoughtful and spirited history of the silk road for general readers. The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013) is part of the Oxford “A Very Short Introduction” series. The book is organized into six chapters that each take a […]

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