Student Spotlight: Moritz Meutzner

Moritz has been recently awarded the 2017-2018 Bernard and Fern Badzin Fellowship in Genocide and Holocaust Studies! Congratulations, Moritz!

Moritz was born and raised in Berlin, Germany and moved to Minneapolis in 2013 to pursue his graduate studies. He received his M.A in Germanic Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2015. Before moving to the United States, Moritz had a vocational career in theater, stage lighting, and intercultural communication. He studied Cultural Studies (cultural history major, linguistics minor) at theEuropean University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), where he received his B.A. in 2012. Moritz’s teaching and research interests are modern European literary and intellectual history, German-Jewish history and modern Ottoman/Turkish history. Moritz is interested in the representation of the Holocaust and experience of exile in literature and the arts and focuses on the encounters of Holocaust representation with other forms of twentieth-century violence, specifically for the case of Turkey and the Middle East.

Moritz is currently working on his dissertation project on the history of German and German-Jewish exile in Turkey during the 1930/40s. Focusing on the case of the literary critic Erich Auerbach (1892-1957), who wrote his most influential works on European literature while in Turkish exile and later in the U.S., Moritz examines the relationship of German-Jewish émigré culture to Turkish intellectual history. During the 2017/18 academic year, Moritz will conduct research abroad and begin writing his dissertation (prospective defense: Spring 2019).

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.

Berlin’s Message to Ankara: Learn From Us

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II, on May 8th 1985, German President Richard von Weiszäcker addressed the country’s parliament with the following words: “All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by the consequences and liable for it. We Germans must look truth straight in the eye – without embellishment and without distortion.”

Weiszäcker’s speech became a milestone in  the distinctively German process known as Vergangenheitsbewältigung (a composite German word which can be best rendered in English as the struggle to overcome or confront the [criminal] past.) Acknowledging the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by Germany during WWII was not an easy process. Weizäcker’s speech challenged persisting idealized or self-victimized national narratives, and it undermined citizens’ identification with their history.

Continue reading “Berlin’s Message to Ankara: Learn From Us”

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.