STANFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS
  
Cover of Remnants by Elyse Semerdjian
Remnants
Embodied Archives of the Armenian Genocide
Elyse Semerdjian

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August 2023
424 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503630383
Paperback ISBN: 9781503636125

CITATION

DescriptionDesc.

A groundbreaking and profoundly moving exploration of the Armenian genocide, told through the traces left in the memories and on the bodies of its women survivors.

Foremost among the images of the Armenian Genocide is the specter of tattooed Islamized Armenian women. Blue tribal tattoos that covered face and body signified assimilation into Muslim Bedouin and Kurdish households. Among Armenians, the tattooed survivor was seen as a living ethnomartyr or, alternatively, a national stain, and the bodies of women and children figured centrally within the Armenian communal memory and humanitarian imaginary. In Remnants, these tattooed and scar-bearing bodies reveal a larger history, as the lived trauma of genocide is understood through bodies, skin, and—in what remains of those lives a century afterward—bones.

With this book, Elyse Semerdjian offers a feminist reading of the Armenian Genocide. She explores how the Ottoman Armenian communal body was dis-membered, disfigured, and later re-membered by the survivor community. Gathering individual memories and archival fragments, she writes a deeply personal history, and issues a call to break open the archival record in order to embrace affect and memory. Traces of women and children rescued during and after the war are reconstructed to center the quietest voices in the historical record. This daring work embraces physical and archival remnants, the imprinted negatives of once living bodies, as a space of radical possibility within Armenian prosthetic memory and a necessary way to recognize the absence that remains.

About the author

Elyse Semerdjian is Professor of Islamic World/Middle East History at Whitman College. She is the author of "Off the Straight Path": Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo (2008).