Cultures of Denial : Comparing Holocaust and Armenian Genocide Denial

University dissertation from Department of History

Abstract: This thesis studies the phenomenon of modern genocide denial, focusing in particular on the Western denialist cultures surrounding the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide of 1915.While those denying, rationalizing or trivializing the Holocaust may be completely separated from those engaging in denial of the Armenian genocide, both cultures of denial have undergone similar historical phases and developments. In addition, both cultures of denial show similar methodologies and utilize the same arguments. These structural patterns of denial regularly range from the type of hard denial that negates the very reality of the event, to softer versions aimed at rationalizing or trivializing either genocide. The second aim of this thesis is focused on approaching denial as a scholarly dilemma. Previous studies have emphasized genocide denial as a moral or political problem, first and foremost in need of combating or debunking. As a result, denial has been characterized as “telling lies about the past”, and as the absolute antithesis to the scholarly writing of history. This study questions the validity of such a black-and-white interpretation. Denial and scholarly historical writing is, it is suggested, not separate by a deep and insurmountable divide but by less easily identified gray zones.

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