This project focuses on the logic and narratives of genocidal and infra-genocidal violence in the Caucasus and Turkestan (Central Asia) during the First World War (understood as a Greater War), from the beginning of the Balkan Wars (1912) to 1923/24, which marked the emergence of new modern states (Republic of Turkey and Soviet Central Asian Republics). These two major regions, which are still poorly studied by Western research on the First World War and by research on the colonial and imperial history, have common characteristics: these regions are geographically located at the confluence of major continental empires (Ottoman, Russian, Chinese, Persian); they are politically experiencing a period of transition of extreme violence for the civilian and military populations, moving from an imperial and colonial situation to highly assimilating ethno-national states; they can be understood as peripheral and secondary fronts of the Great War in the sense that they constitute only partially front-line areas while their minority populations benefit from a low integration into the imperial armies (they mainly escape military conscription to serve in labor battalions); they are at locus of a fundamental militia and paramilitary phenomenon that are perpetrating mass crimes.
This singular situation gives rise to exterminating violence, by their massive and intentional nature: in addition to the genocide of Armenians, massacres decimate a very large part of the Pontic Greeks (Ottoman Empire), the Assyrian-Chaldeans (Ottoman Empire and Persia) and the Kara-Kyrgyz (Russian Empire). Thus, this project consists of a testimonial and documentary collect: since historiographies are new and relatively modest on these subjects, it is necessary to undertake fundamental research of documentation and collection of primary sources, which will be analyzed both in terms of content, from a historical point of view (description of the logic of violence, interactions between ethnic and religious groups, the role of the State, the army, militias, etc.), and in terms of form. How to bear witness and in which language (language of the executioner, the victim, third language)? With which lexicon and vocabulary, with which format (song, poetry...)? How does this document circulate? How is it translated, edited, distributed, received, perhaps hijacked? This project also consists of reflective and analytical research which aims, in the light of the testimonies and research undertaken in archives, to analyze the context of the emergence of this exterminating violence, its implementation, its gradual disappearance, the reprisals it generates or its possible resurgence(s) at later periods.
The team is composed of 10 researchers, who have been working on these issues for a long time.
Madame Cloé Drieu (Centre d'Etudes Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
Cetobac Centre d'Etudes Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques
Help of the ANR 149,796 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2019 - 36 Months