In Swisspeace Working Paper. Bern, Schweiz: pp. 1-38 (2017)

Melanie Altanian
University of Bern
Considering the value of archives for dealing with the past processes, especially for the establishment of collective memory and identity, this paper discusses the role of archives in situations of conflicting memories such as in the case of the official Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. A crucial problem of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation are the divergent perceptions of what to consider as proper ‘evidence’, i.e. as objective, reliable, impartial or trustworthy sources of knowledge in order to prove the Armenian genocide. The aim of this paper is to show how in a general atmosphere of distrust or prejudiced credibility judgments, even technically reliable archival records will be perceived as unreliable and biased, lacking any evidentiary status to factually prove a genocide which is categorically denied. Therefore, this working paper discusses how claims to reliability, objectivity and other similar scientifically and epistemically relevant attributes are understood in archival science as well as memory studies, and emphasizes the problems related to their instrumentalization by political actors within the context of genocide denialism. The Turkish-Armenian context promises many important empirical as well as theoretical insights on the uses and misuses of these attributes, suggesting that measures ought to be taken beforehand to decrease intergroup prejudice and distrust toward the ‘other’, so that archives can be effective in the truth-finding process.
Keywords Archives  Dealing with the past  Armenian genocide  Genocide Denialism  Collective Memory  Epistemic Injustice
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Genocide Denial as Testimonial Oppression.Melanie Altanian - 2021 - Social Epistemology 35 (2):133-146.

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