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Devrim Sezer

Research Fellow (02/2019–07/2019)


In the Shadow of Past Injustices. Guilt, Responsibility, and the Politics of Memory


SEZERThis project aims to explore the themes of genocide and collective responsibility in the works of Karl Jaspers, Hannah Arendt, and Raphael Lemkin in a Turkish context. It is based on the premise that Turkey has not come to terms with the Armenian genocide, and that our understanding of this failure can be sharpened by examining these thinkers’ reflections on the Holocaust. The project has two main pillars. First, I will explore the implications of Arendt’s emphasis on the unprecedented nature of the Holocaust for the Armenian genocide and critically evaluate her view of genocide in the light of Lemkin’s original conception. Second, I will focus on Jaspers’ and Arendt’s analyses of guilt/responsibility with particular reference to four groups: perpetrators, bystanders, successor generations, and victims and their descendants. This comparative analysis might help us develop a more robust conception of collective responsibility with particular emphasis on an acknowledgement of past injustices. In addition, the insights gleaned from that discussion can stimulate further scholarly/public debate on the memory of the Armenian genocide.


Devrim Sezer is Associate Professor of Political Thought at İzmir University of Economics. He received an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and a PhD in Political Science from Carleton University. His research interests include the history of political philosophy, theories of democracy/republicanism, literature and political thought, modernity and its critics, and contemporary debates on public memory and collective responsibility. He has published articles in History of Political Thought and History of European Ideas and contributed chapters to edited books.

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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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