Onder Celik

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Johns Hopkins U.

Grant number

Gr. 9288

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Celik, Onder, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Legal Regulation, Armenian Treasures, and Unspoken Crimes: Gold Hunting in the Kurdish Region of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Veena Das

Preliminary abstract: Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were systematically massacred in millions during the years of the WWI. The Armenian Genocide took place mainly in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, also known as Western Armenia or Northern Kurdistan. After the genocide, the cities, once inhabited in majority by the Armenians have become Kurdish-majority cities. A widespread belief among inhabitants of this region is that the victims of the genocide buried their possessions before and during the massacres. A virtual industry for the production of maps showing hidden treasures grew around these beliefs and stories about treasures. Today, treasure hunting is a growing activity among the impoverished Kurdish men. This research explores the legal regulation of the Armenian material heritage through the present phenomenon of treasure hunting. It examines the processes undertaken for obtaining official treasure excavation permits from local authorities and the treasure search that takes place subsequently. I am interested in how an unspoken historical crime whose very existence is denied in Turkish official discourse finds expressions in legal regulations, permits, and policing of excavation sites among the Armenian ruins. My project seeks to contribute to the literatures of law and the Armenian Genocide, ruins and memorial sites, crisis and precarity.