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VWI invites/goes to...


Cycle of VWI Fellows’ Colloquia


The VWI fellows present their intermediary research results in the context of colloquia which are announced to a small audience and are open to a public audience with an academic and topical interest. The lectures are complemented by a response or commentary by an expert in the given field and are discussed with the other fellows.


Due to the previous lack of an appropriate space, the colloquia were held at other Viennese research and cultural institutions with a topical or regional connection to the given subject. From this circumstance was born the “VWI goes to …” format.


With the move to a new institute building at Rabensteig 3, the spatial circumstances have changed, so that the VWI is now happily able to invite other research and cultural institutions. Therefore, the VWI is now conducting its colloquia both externally and within its own building, in the framework of continued co-operation with other institutions.


The new cycle of fellows’ colloquia “VWI invites/goes to …” is not only able to reach a broader circle of interested persons, but moreover integrates the VWI further into the Viennese scholarly establishment, perhaps even crossing borders into the greater regional research landscape.



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VWI invites/goes to...
Devrim Sezer: Two Concepts of Genocide. Arendt, Lemkin, and the Destruction of the Armenians

Thursday, 27. June 2019, 15:00 - 17:00

Wiener Wiesenthal Institut, Research Lounge 1010 Vienna, Rabensteig 3, 3rd Floor


VWI invites the Institute of History at the University of Bern

Armenian Rug webThe memory of the destruction of the Armenians was suppressed and silenced in Turkey until almost the end of the twentieth century. Today, many scholars concur that one of the striking features of the Armenian genocide is its denial in the public memory of the perpetrator community. For the last two decades, this colossal amnesia has been scrutinised by an increasing number of scholars, writers, artists, civic initiatives, and the descendants of the victims from a variety of perspectives. And yet, notwithstanding this growing acknowledgement, there exists a strong public and official resistance to the concept of genocide in Turkey, not least of all because it is regarded both as a legal term invented long after the event and as a synonym for the Holocaust of European Jewry.

This presentation, located at the crossroads of political theory and Holocaust and Genocide Studies, aims to stimulate further scholarly and public debate on the destruction of the Armenians by examining the origin and meaning of the concept of genocide in the writings of Hannah Arendt and Raphael Lemkin. It identifies two strikingly different conceptions of genocide in the thought of these two influential figures. Furthermore, it suggests that the insights gleaned from this comparative analysis can sharpen our understanding of the failure to come to terms with the Armenian genocide and help us to reconsider the dangers in utilising the Holocaust as a major standard by which to determine the applicability of the concept of genocide to different historical contexts. Finally, it aims to respond to the criticisms of the sceptics who draw attention either to misuses of the term of genocide in public debates or to its conceptual vagueness.

Commented by Christian Gerlach

Devrim Sezer is a Research Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) and Associate Professor of Political Thought at Izmir University of Economics. He has published articles in History of Political Thought and History of European Ideas, co-edited two books, contributed chapters to edited volumes, and co-translated Arendt’s posthumously published Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy (edited by Ronald Beiner, Chicago 1982) into Turkish (Istanbul 2019).

Christian Gerlach is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Bern. His research focusses on National Socialism and the Second World War, mass violence in comparative perspective, and the history of agriculture, food, nutrition, hunger, and rural ‘development’. His most recent publications include Extrem gewalttätige Gesellschaften (2011) and Der Mord an den europäischen Juden (2017).

Please register at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by latest Tuesday, 21 May, 12.00 am and bring your ID.

Click here to download the invitation as a PDF file.

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