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Accepted Contribution:

Embroidering History: Armenian Textile Crafts in the Post-Genocide  
Kübra Zeynep Sarıaslan (University of Bern)

Contribution short abstract:

This paper aims to bring a critical analysis of the link between these post-genocide Armenian textile crafts and contemporary interventions for women's empowerment through handicrafts by examining textile archives.

Contribution long abstract:

In this paper I will present and discuss my preliminary discussions on the research project that aims to explore the perceptions and practices surrounding textile-based crafts among post-genocide diaspora, with a specific focus on needlework and lace. Handicrafts produced by Armenian refugees fleeing massacres and genocide in the Ottoman Empire, were circulated especially in Europe through humanitarian actors and organisations to generate income. Such practices highlighting the resilience and resourcefulness of individuals, enabled Armenian women to help themselves by addressing their emotional needs for reconnecting with their identity as well. After more than a century, however, humanitarian and/or developmentalist interventions in various parts of the world still rely on women's handicrafts production packaged with the rhetoric of empowerment. I understand Armenian textile handicrafts as remnants (Navaro 2017) and look at how the creative expressions of survivor women serve as both a form of resistance and a means of preserving the memory of their experiences, further enriching the Armenian communal memory, and offering a new dimension to the historical discourse. Tracing crafts in transnational contexts of production, preservation, and representation, and drawing on fieldwork in archives, museums, workshops, and interviews collecting biographical narratives and focusing on the agency of objects that is situated both locally and globally, I ask what we can learn from handicrafts produced and preserved about violence, displacement, and gender dynamics?

Roundtable RT132
What is a living archive?
  Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -