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  • Mass Media and the Genocide of the Armenians: One Hundred Years of Uncertain Representation ed. by Joceline Chabot et al.
  • Gerard J. Libaridian
Chabot, Joceline, Richard Godin, Stefanie Kappler, and Sylvia Kasparian, eds. – Mass Media and the Genocide of the Armenians: One Hundred Years of Uncertain Representation. Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. Pp. 241.

The editors of this most useful volume lay out their theoretical framework in an enlightening introduction. Joceline Chabot (Université de Moncton), Richard Godin (Université Laval), Stefanie Kappler (Durham University), and Sylvia Kasparian (Université de Moncton) argue that “representation […] is a social and political process that is never neutral,” (p. 6) For the most part the nine essays authored by a variety of scholars that comprise this volume attest to the veracity of that statement; at the least they test it.

Continuing the argument laid out in the introduction, Adam Muller (University of Manitoba) raises a significant question in Chapter 1: since representation inevitably involves some kind of aesthetic order, can an aesthetic order be established in the representation of genocide without distorting the essence of that genocide with all its consequences, especially when the pain of genocide has been described as ‘indescribable’?

Analyzing the case of “Ravished Armenia,” a 1919 film about the Genocide in chapter 2, Sévane Garibian (University of Geneva and University of Neufchâtel) maintains that with reproducibility, works of art acquire a political function with a corresponding loss of aura. [End Page 664]

Extending Garibian’s analysis and considering posters and other representations of the violence involved in the Armenian Genocide, Benedetta Guerzoni, an independent scholar of images of violence, highlights the racist and sexist character of art works designed or chosen to communicate the violence and pain of the victims. Guerzoni also ties what was offered to audiences after the war to the heightened insecurities of men in a changing world.

Recently retired from the Free University of Berlin, Tessa Hofmann discusses the dilemma of the German press regarding the policies of Germany’s ally, the Ottoman government toward its Armenian population in Chapter 4. That press was torn between Germany’s interests and the scope and level of atrocities being committed by the Ottoman government. Hofmann traces the history of the coverage of the Armenian question until recent times.

In Chapter 5, Lousine Abrahamyan of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia narrates the coverage of events in the Ottoman Empire and the story of Russian Armenian assistance to refugees and orphans who had survived the massacres and deportations, focusing on the newspaper established in Moscow for that purpose, Armianskiy Vestnik.

Dominica Maria Maclos (Cardinal Stefan Wyszinski University in Warsaw) contributes to the debate in Chapter 6 by pointing to the different positions of the three segments of Polish society on the Armenian Genocide. The division of Poland between Germany, Austria and Russia, indeed, occurred during and immediately after its occurence.

In the next chapter, Susan Meryem Rosita AlJadeeah, a doctoral researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, and Sait Çetinoğlu, human rights activist and member of the Free University, explore the representation of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman press during the little explored period of 1918 to 1919, emphasizing the economic factors that contributed to the execution, if not logic, of the massacres and deportations.

Chapter 8 is a most interesting contribution to the volume by three of the four editors of the book. In this essay, Joceline Chabot, Richard Godin, and Sylvia Kasparian provide a comparative analysis of the way French-language newspapers in Canada covered the events in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The remarkable aspect of this essay is the use of Sphinx and Hyperbase programs to trace the use of violence-related terms and the comparison of their use in reports of German and Ottoman atrocities.

In the final chapter, Claire Mouradian (CNRS, Paris) presents the case of Rabbi S. Wise, an ardent champion of the causes of the Jewish and Armenian peoples. She raises the question of whether his knowledge of the massacres and deportations of the Armenian people and his attempts at making political and other authorities aware...


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