Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationJohns Hopkins U.
Grant numberGr. 9288
Approve DateApril 19, 2016
Project TitleCelik, 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
ONDER CELIK, then a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Legal Regulation, Armenian Treasures, and Unspoken Crimes: Gold Hunting in the Kurdish Region of Turkey,’ supervised by Dr. Veena Das. This project examined the legal regulation of hunting for Armenian treasures and the practices of Kurdish treasure hunters under legal scrutiny in Turkey’s Kurdistan. Throughout the 12-month long research period, treasure hunters’ applications for excavation permits from local state museums were traced and treasure hunters have been accompanied on authorized excavations. In the project, permit applications were collected and analyzed. Lawsuit files concerning ‘illegal excavations without an official permit’ were collected and analyzed in the courtroom archives to examine the formation of legal accusations against treasure hunters. Through an analysis of the complex forms in which legal and historical claims on the Armenian past are made, this research found how knowledge of the Armenian genocide is produced through official classifications, logics, descriptions of the land, valuable objects buried under it, and legal regulations of treasure hunters’ quest for material wealth. ‘Armenian gold’ and the ruins where the gold is searched are defined by these legal processes and documents as the products of the disappearance of the Armenian people form its historical homeland. In that sense, the project has detected how the legal regulation of treasure hunts became an alternative archive for the study of the Armenian genocide.