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Humanities and Social Sciences Colloquium - Onur Yildirim

Prof. Dr. Onur Yilirim
Middle East Technical University, Ankara

The Trails of a Narrative: The 1923 Greco-Turkish Exchange of Populations in Interwar Scholarship
When May 14, 2018
from 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, seminar room
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The Trails of a Narrative: The 1923 Greco-Turkish Exchange of Populations in Interwar Scholarship

 This presentation focuses on the narrative of the 1923 Greco-Turkish Exchange of Populations with a special reference to the role of a prominent figure in the making of this narrative, namely, Stephen Pericles Ladas. His book, which appeared 85 years ago, is still considered the standard text on the event and is as yet unsurpassed in terms of its coverage of facts and figures, despite the proliferation of publications on the subject especially after the sudden influx of interest in the historical cases of forced migration in the early 1990s. In this presentation I contextualize and briefly examine this highly influential text on the Exchange of Minorities with a view to showing how it came to constitute the dominant narrative of the Greco-Turkish Exchange of Populations. I argue that Ladas appropriated the findings and arguments about this event from the publications of his contemporaneous Greek bureaucrats and scholars and then blended them with the official reports and documents of the League of Nations to craft a narrative favorable to the nation-state and the League of Nations. In the absence of any challenging opinions and publications, this narrative which was largely inattentive of the human and moral consequences of the event became the standard account of the Greco-Turkish case to be widely quoted by the international political and scholarly circles preoccupied with the question of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities during the interwar period as well as in the Cold War era. The present study is, to my knowledge, the first attempt to trace the intellectual origins of the mainstream approach to the Greco-Turkish Exchange of Populations, which highlights the diplomatic and political aspects of the event at the expense of its human and moral dimensions.