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Let Them Not Return

Sayfo – The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire

Edited by David Gaunt, Naures Atto, and Soner O. Barthoma

274 pages, 1 map, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-498-6 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Not Yet Published (April 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-499-3 eBook Not Yet Published

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“With a list of top-notch contributors, this is an excellent addition to what little is currently available on this under-researched genocide. The organization of the contributions and the volume’s breadth of scope are particularly impressive.” · Mark Levene, University of Southampton

The mass killing of Ottoman Armenians is today widely recognized, both within and outside scholarly circles, as an act of genocide. What is less well known, however, is that it took place within a broader context of Ottoman violence against minority groups during and after the First World War. Among those populations decimated were the indigenous Christian Assyrians (also known as Syriacs or Chaldeans) who lived in the borderlands of present-day Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. This volume is the first scholarly edited collection focused on the Assyrian genocide, or “Sayfo” (literally, “sword” in Aramaic), presenting historical, psychological, anthropological, and political perspectives that shed much-needed light on a neglected historical atrocity.

David Gaunt is Professor of History at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University, and a member of the European Academy. He has written extensively on mass violence and genocide in Eastern Europe and in the Ottoman Empire. His Massacres, Resistors, Protectors (2006) is considered the seminal work on the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean genocide.

Naures Atto is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in World Christianities and their Diaspora in the European Context and Principal Investigator in the Aramaic Online Project at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of Hostages in the Homeland, Orphans in the Diaspora: Identity Discourses among the Assyrian/Syriac elites in the European Diaspora (2011).

Soner O. Barthoma is an independent researcher in the field of Political Science and co-coordinator of the Erasmus+ Aramaic Online Project at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of several articles about the modern history of Assyrians in Turkey.

Series: Volume 26, War and Genocide
Subject: Genocide Studies 20th Century History
Area: Southern Europe Middle East & Israel

LC: DR435.A87 L48 2017

BISAC: POL061000 POLITICAL SCIENCE/Genocide & War Crimes; HIS055000 HISTORY/Middle East/Turkey & Ottoman Empire*; HIS010010 HISTORY/Europe/Eastern

BIC: HBTZ Genocide & ethnic cleansing; HBLW 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



Introduction: Contextualizing the Sayfo in the First World War
David Gaunt, Naures Atto and Soner O. Barthoma

Chapter 1. How Armenian was the 1915 Genocide?
Ugur Ümit Üngör

Chapter 2. Sayfo Genocide: The Culmination of an Anatolian Culture of Violence
David Gaunt

Chapter 3. The Resistance of Urmia Assyrians to Violence at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Florence Hellot-Bellier

Chapter 4. Mor Dionysios ‘Abd an-Nur Aslan: Church Leader during a Genocide
Jan J. van Ginkel

Chapter 5. Syriac Orthodox Leadership in the Post-Genocide Period (1918–26) and the Removal of the Patriarchate from Turkey
Naures Atto and Soner O. Barthoma

Chapter 6. Sayfo, Firman, Qafle: The First World War from the Perspective of Syriac Christians
Shabo Talay

Chapter 7. A Historical Note of October 1915 Written in Dayro D-Zafaran (Deyrulzafaran)
Sebastian Brock

Chapter 8. Interpretation of the ‘Sayfo’ in Gallo Shabo’s Poem
Simon Birol

Chapter 9. The Psychological Legacy of the Sayfo: An Inter-generational Transmission of Fear and Distrust
Önver A. Cetrez

Chapter 10. Sayfo and Denialism: A New Field of Activity for Agents of the Turkish Republic
Racho Donef

Chapter 11. Turkey’s Key Arguments in Denying the Assyrian Genocide
Abdulmesih BarAbraham

Chapter 12. Who Killed Whom? A Comparison of Political Discussions in France and Sweden about the Genocide of 1915
Christophe Premat


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