St. Leon Church to Host Lecture on Seizure of Armenian Asserts in Aintab

FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Ümit Kurt, PhD candidate in the Department of History at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., will present a lecture titled “The Emergence of the New Wealthy Class, 1915-1922: The Seizure of Armenian Property by Local Elites in Aintab,” on Thursday, April 10, at 7:45 p.m. at St. Leon Armenian Church, Abajian Hall, 12-61 Saddle River Road.

The lecture is jointly sponsored by AGBU Ararat, Armenian Network of America- Greater NY, Hye Doon: Armenian-American Support & Education Center, Knights of Vartan Bakradouny Lodge of New Jersey, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), NY Armenian Students Association, St. Leon Armenian Church, Tekeyan Cultural Association- Greater NY Chapter, and Tibrevank Alumni. A reception will follow the lecture.

The genocide and deportation of Aintab’s Armenians were carried out by local notables and provincial elites. These local actors prospered and became a new wealthy social class through the appropriation of Armenian property and wealth. By examining the carefully planned confiscation of Armenian property as an integral part of the genocide, Kurt sheds light on how the property of massacred and deported Armenians changed hands.

Kurt will also discuss the Abandoned Properties Laws that dealt with the administration of property “left behind” by Armenians. He argues that these laws are not only a structural element of the genocide in 1915 but today’s legal system in Turkey. As such, they could continue, to this very day, to preserve the rights of Armenians to their properties.

Kurt, a native of Aintab, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Middle East Technical University and a master’s in European studies from Sabanci University. He is currently an instructor at Sabanci University. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including most recently Kanunlarin Ruhu: Emval-i Metruke Kanunlarinda Soykirimin Izlerini Aramak (The Spirit of Laws: Seeking for the Traces of Armenian Genocide in the Laws of Abandoned Property, 2012), with Taner Akçam, an English-language translation of which is forthcoming. His main area of interest is confiscation of the Armenian properties and the role of local elites/notables in Aintab during the Armenian genocide.