Learning to study a painful past

If you may well ask MIT connect Professor Lerna Ekmekçioğlu exactly how she ended up in academia, she’s got a straightforward solution.

“I was produced a historian,” Ekmekçioğlu states. “It was my fate.”

That natural affinity for record has propelled her through the ranks of academia, as pioneering scholar of Armenians in Turkey, including Armenian females. The woman niche is really a complex subject involving a historic disaster: the role of women in culture after the 1915 Armenian genocide.

More especially, Ekmekçioğlu studies how Armenian females helped hold their particular community intact, even when changing it by presenting feminist some ideas. Her best-known guide, “Recovering Armenia: The restrictions of that belong in Post-Genocide Turkey,” posted in 2016 by Stanford University Press, reconstructs the life associated with neighborhood of survivors, including its feminist voices, in the first decades after World War I.

Ekmekçioğlu’s basic interest in this topic is simple to account for. She grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, included in the small Armenian neighborhood continuing to be indeed there on the years. Within sense, Ekmekçioğlu to be real created is an Armenian historian. Knowing the globe she spent my youth in meant understanding its previous.

“i usually had been desire for Armenian history,” Ekmekçioğlu notes. Still, this can be a big leap from individual interest up to a sustained job. And, as she recounts it, “I didn’t have any part models, really,” in academia, since there was so small work by what she wanted to study.

For this reason, Ekmekçioğlu’s job has two layers. You’re the woman study and teaching — for which Ekmekçioğlu was granted tenure at MIT last year.

The other may be the considerable energy she’s got designed to disseminate Armenian record to other pupils. Ekmekçioğlu is currently working on several jobs at MIT to create Armenian historic products widely accessible, and so to generate conditions by which today’s pupils and future scientists and historians can readily learn the topic.

“we very nearly feel it like a duty,” Ekmekçioğlu states. “we see this being a public-service.”

To understand why this matters to Ekmekçioğlu, look at the situations for which she first started learning Armenian history and Armenian feminism, as an undergraduate at Bogazici University in Istanbul. The fundamental issue Ekmekçioğlu experienced: There weren’t founded programs about Armenians, let alone Armenian females, during the university. Teaching Armenian record, to this day, stays a punishable crime in Turkey.

Therefore Ekmekçioğlu and some other pupils founded reading teams to review Armenian record and share information regarding written sources and materials that pertained to Armenian females. Collectively, a few of them entered an investigation report competitors, for all fields of history‚ and completed 3rd.

That was adequate to assist Ekmekçioğlu along with her friends gain even more assistance from teachers, whom encouraged them to keep following the niche. And they’ve got: certainly one of Ekmekçioğlu’s undergraduate buddies ended up being Melissa Bilal, now a professors user at the American University of Armenia, in Yerevan, Armenia, with who Ekmekçioğlu however collaborates on research and pedagogical jobs.

Being an undergraduate, Ekmekçioğlu in addition spent a-year abroad on University of Athens before graduating from Bogazici University in 2002. She then attended nyc University being a graduate pupil, receiving the woman MA in 2004 along with her PhD in 2010. Following a 12 months as postdoc on University of Michigan, Ekmekçioğlu joined up with the MIT professors last year. Today she actually is the McMillan-Stewart connect Professor of History on Institute, and is affiliated with MIT’s Women’s and Gender Studies system together with Center for Global Studies.

Ekmekçioğlu’s work examines a psychological and social stress at the heart of this resides of several Armenian ladies. Following a surprising, traumatic person disaster, these were simultaneously wanting to press their particular culture forward, by developing brand-new norms and rights for women, whilst wanting to hold their particular fractured community collectively by keeping the social customs of the past.

“By definition, that they had to alter,” Ekmekçioğlu says. “But that goal is in tension with keeping Armenian custom.”

Inside her guide, Ekmekçioğlu’s work cleverly attracts on written sources, eg an ignored Armenian mag known as Hay Gin, to-draw out of the thoughts associated with the ladies she scientific studies. More generally, she’s collaborated with Bilal to both submit and evaluate numerous original-source documents about Armenian females, ranging over time from 1860s toward 1960s.

When Ekmekçioğlu had been however in graduate school, she and Bilal co-edited the very first these types of amount about them, published in Istanbul in 2006 and translated as, “A Cry for Justice: Five Armenian Feminist authors from Ottoman Empire to your Turkish Republic.” These days, she and Bilal are working on a more comprehensive amount for book, become published in English plus the initial languages, using working task title, “Feminism in Armenian: An Interpretive Anthology and Digital Archive.”

One component of this will be a amount combining original primary-source writings and scholarly essays, meant to make the tips of Armenians a more easy to get at part of main-stream women’s record, and designed for class room usage.

Moreover, as the subject implies, Ekmekçioğlu and Bilal work for a electronic element of the project, which is designed to be the many comprehensive pair of resource products about them yet around. She credits MIT as one of the establishments which includes made this sort of task possible; she in addition recently got a Mellon Faculty Grant of this Center for Art, Science, and tech, for a associated public event about them.

“There will be a lot of curation involved in this,” Ekmekciouglu states. “I’ve possessed a countless support at MIT.”

While Ekmekçioğlu actually leading historian of the early Turkish Republic in general,  most of her work has come utilizing the clear reason for phoning focus on ignored ladies who, in extremely tough times, sought to help keep their culture alive.

“It’s just reasonable to those ladies who worked so very hard, to achieve that,” Ekemkcioglu claims.