Marc Nichanian to discuss genocide denial as "historiographic perversion" in New York book talk
Published: Wednesday October 28, 2009
New York - Genocide is a matter of law. It is also a matter of history. And the denial of genocide – often called the last stage of genocide – attacks the foundations of both, argues philosopher and literary critic Marc Nichanian.
"The machinery of genocide and denial," he wrote in a 1999 essay, "is destined to destroy the very notion of fact."
In the modern world, where "genocide" is a conclusion to be validated by archival evidence, a new and rather subtle form of denial accepts the facts of deportation and massacre but endlessly defers judgment about their significance, Prof. Nichanian maintains.
"Yes, the facts are the facts," replies denial, as Armenians keep proving their own deaths, over and over. "So what?"
On Nov. 5, Prof. Nichanian will discuss his new book, The Historiographic Perversion (Columbia University Press, 2009), with his translator Gil Anidjar and Columbia University Armenian Studies Prof. Nanor Kebranian at Book Culture, 536 W. 112nd St. (between Broadway and Amsterdam). The 7:00 p.m. event is free and open to the public.
Engaging some of the most disturbing responses to the Armenian Genocide, Prof. Nichanian strikingly reveals the complex role of law and history in making this and other genocides endure as contentious events. Genocide, this book makes us see, is in one sense the destruction of the archive. It relies on the historiographic perversion.
Marc Nichanian has taught in the United States, France, Italy, Turkey, and Armenia. He is the author of a history of the Armenian language and of a multivolume study of modern Armenian literature entitled Entre l'art et le témoignage, volume 1 of which, Writers of Disaster: Armenian Literature in the Twentieth Century appeared in English in 2002. He is also the editor of Gam: A Journal of Analysis (in Armenian).
Gil Anidjar teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies and in the Department of Religion at Columbia University. He is the author of 'Our Place in al-Andalus': Kabbalah, Philosophy, Literature in Arab Jewish Letters (Stanford University Press, 2002) and The Jew, The Arab: A History of the Enemy (Stanford University Press, 2003).