Student Spotlight: Yagmur Karakaya

Yagmur was born and raised in Istanbul and graduated from Bogazici University. After graduating with an MA degree at Koc University she moved to Minneapolis to start her PhD studies in Sociology. As a student of cultural sociology, she is interested in collective memory, nostalgia, and the role of emotions in remembering. While Yagmur was the 2015-2016 Badzin fellow in Genocide and Holocaust Studies, she worked on a comparative project with Alejandro Baer on Holocaust Commemoration in Spain and Turkey, which they presented at several venues including the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence interdisciplinary graduate workshop and American Sociological Association’s annual conference. Currently they are working on turning the research into a paper.

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In Turkey, nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire, across both popular and political domains, marks a drastic shift from the early 20th century vision of history, which cuts ties to the Empire. Yagmur’s qualitative multi-method dissertation examines how political leaders use nostalgia to consolidate power, and simultaneously explore the limits of monopolizing history. She argues that state-led neo-Ottomanist collective memory practices serve as a mechanism of socialization that helps the citizens build an emotional attachment to the state. Yet, popular cultural forms such as television series provide their own version of this history, to be interpreted and reworked by an increasingly polarized Turkish society, indicating the limits of state control of collective memory.

Rami Malek: Coptic-Egyptian? Arab? White?

Rami Malek recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series for his role in Mr. Robot, designating him as the first “non-white” actor to win this award in 18 years. Malek was born in the US to Coptic Christian-Egyptian parents, meaning that his win is widely celebrated amongst Arab, Egyptian, Coptic, and American communities. This win highlights the fluidity and complexity of identity, and particularly sheds light on debates about Copts as Egyptians, Copts as Arabs, and Middle Easterners and North Africans as non-white.

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Student Spotlight: J. Siguru Wahutu

img_9446J. Siguru Wahutu was born and raised in Kenya and moved to Minneapolis to pursue his undergraduate education. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Sociology and Global Studies and a minor in Cultural Studies. He stayed in Minnesota to obtain his PhD in Sociology with a thematic focus on genocide, media and collective memory and a regional focus on Africa. Wahutu is broadly interested in how news organizations and journalists in Africa produce knowledge about genocide and mass atrocity in neighboring African countries. He was the 2013-2014 and the 2015 Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He also writes for the CHGS blog on current events in Africa.

Wahutu’s current research focuses on how Africa’s media represented the violence in Darfur between 2003 and 2008 and compares this to how media from the global north portrayed events in Darfur during the same period. This research project aims to examine the process through which African news organizations frame atrocities and actors in atrocities for their national audiences. While much has been written about how the global north represents the global south during instances of mass violence, little is known about how Africa represents Africa. This is the gap in scholarship that Wahutu’s work fills. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Wahutu will be editing his dissertation and submitting research papers to academic journals.

Student Spotlight: Miray Philips

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the work of University of Minnesota students associated with the Center. Our first student Miray Philips, was recently awarded Bernard and Fern Badzin Fellow in Genocide and Holocaust Studies for the 2016-2017 Academic Year.

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Miray and Fern Badzin

Miray was born in Egypt, raised in Kuwait, and moved to Michigan to pursue a college education. She graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a BS in Psychology and Sociology. She then moved to Minnesota to begin her PhD in Sociology, with a focus on violence, collective memory, and the Middle East and North Africa. She
is broadly interested in the experiences of ethnic and religious minority groups within the Middle East and North Africa, specifically as it pertains to persecution, discrimination and violence.

Miray Philips’s current research is focused on understanding how the Coptic Christian community in Egypt and the diaspora makes sense of their present day experiences in light of a long history of suffering and persecution, and in turn how that history informs their present-day experiences. While Copts in Egypt face persecution and discrimination at the hands of the state and civil society, Copts in Kuwait are at the difficult intersection of being a religious minority and also expats. Copts in the US, however, experience relative
privilege in a predominantly Christian country. During the fellowship year she will be completing course work and interviewing Copts in Egypt, Kuwait and the US.

Will we only care about Burundi if it is called a genocide?

A few things have been happening in Burundi this year. The president, Pierre Nkuruzinza circumvented the constitution and ran for a third term. The result of this has been on-going conflict from April. Burundi was not a surprise though. Journalists I spoke to earlier this year all stated that regional coverage of Burundi had pointed to something being afoot as early as last year. None-the-less, here we are, with yet another unfolding atrocity, several deaths, an ever growing numbers of displaced and plenty of hand-wringing by the international community.

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#147notjustanumber

9f7eda0b-6d1f-45eb-a042-092293fcc167On the 2nd of April my home country, Kenya, suffered its bloodiest terrorist attack in recent history. The attack by Al-Shabaab was at a university in the town of Garissa, close to the Kenya-Somali border. While it would be tempting to rant and rave about the causes of the attack, the lapse in Kenya’s security forces, or even the almost non-existence of an official government response — not only to the attack but the victims’ and their families’ plight and suffering — I will not. Instead this month’s article is on the 147 students that died, the almost equal number of students considered missing, and the hundreds more that survived and will always have these scars.

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Congratulations to Yagmur Karakaya, Badzin Fellow for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Department of History are pleased to announce the 2015-2016 Bernard and Fern Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

c8e9469d-ec05-47ef-a3c4-e213f785d467Yagmur Karakaya is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is interested in collective memory, popular culture and narratives of history. Yagmur is currently working on her dissertation project on Ottomania, which focuses on contemporary interest in the Ottoman past in Turkey. She is interested in how different groups of minorities engage with the ways in which Ottoman past is recalled and how they situate themselves in this narrative. During her Badzin Graduate Fellowship year, she will focus on the commemoration of the Holocaust in Turkey, and the relative silence on the Armenian genocide situating both of these phenomena in the current political interest in the Ottoman past. This project will engage with current debates regarding memorialization and denial in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies within the context of Turkey. She will be focusing on two major non-Muslim minorities in Turkey: the Jewish and Armenian population, conducting interviews with the members.