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Sectarianism in the Syrian Jazira: community, land and violence in the memories of World War I and the French mandate (1915- 1939)

Besides this, there was an enormous gap between what I had read in the secondary sources and the memories themselves, especially with regards to the history of the French Jazira. Despite the fact that the arrival of Armenians, Syriacs and Kurds in the French Jazira dates back not to the immediate aftermath of 1915, but rather to the second turmoil--the Sheikh Said Rebellion of 1925--that the region witnessed, the 1915 massacres during the Ottoman Empire formed the plot of all historical narratives, especially among the Jaziran Christians but also among the perpetrator Kurds, though in different ways.

The memories of 1915, or the ferman, are a juncture: it holds a key position, particularly in Christians' imagination of self and community; while the Sheikh Said Revolt appears as a significant reference point in the periodization of individual histories as well as in the history of all Jazirans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, class or locality. The effect of the Sheikh Said Revolt on the non-Kurdish inhabitants of the region, in particular the Christian groups, was highly disregarded in the secondary literature, though The history of the "community" as narrated by the Armenians and the Syriacs, or even the "objective histories" of the mandate period, begins with the lengthy and extensive narratives of violence of all kinds that they were exposed to back in their home towns, on their way to, or prior to their arrival in (French) Syria. The historical narratives of the Christians in particular usually obscure the French mandate rule and the colonial agency; rather, they assimilate it into a survival narrative where the main provider is depicted as the "Syrians" if not the "community" itself. The Kurds, on the contrary, submerge the history into their burdensome present; that is to say, the history of both 1915, the delimitation of the border and the colonial period are overwhelmed by their under-class status in present day Syrian Jazira, which is presented as a history of permanent state(s) oppression since 1925 up to the present.

In 1915, large numbers of Armenians were massacred by Kurdish militia and Turkish soldiers. Martin van Bruinessen: Agha, Shaikh and state, page 25, 271

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jul 28th, 2023 at 06:47:27 PM EST
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