Through a brief overview of the turbulent nineteenth and especially the early twentieth centuries of Van/Vaspurakan Armenians this lecture will underscore the ways in which exploring this particular location challenges the conventional understandings regarding Armenian modernization, inter and intra-communal relations in the late Ottoman period and, particularly the Genocide.
The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries indisputably marked the most crucial span of time for Van/Vaspurakan Armenians. The period witnessed a rapid economic growth, increased social diversification and mobilization, and cultural burgeoning. Yet, it was also a time when the most brutal massacres, systematic persecution and finally the catastrophic total destruction of social life in the area took place.
Van/Vaspurakan is particularly salient for the study of the Genocide; as the province was the epicenter of the Armenian genocide, the place where it incubated. Between August 1914 and April 1915 the political barometer in the province measured the growing tensions along the fault line that stretched from the Russian Southern Caucasus and Northern Iran to Istanbul through Van.
Drawing on Armenian, Ottoman and Russian archival documents, periodicals, memoirs, photographic and cartographic materials and secondary sources this lecture will explore the rise and the tragic death of Van in century up to the Genocide.