December 3, 2016

An ‘Open Wound’ that keeps on bleeding

Vicken Cheterian is a historian and a journalist currently based at Webster University Geneva.

He has been traveling across the U.S. speaking about his new book, “Open Wounds” which explores the aftermath of history following the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It left two million Armenians living in Turkey eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportations and bloodshed.

Vicken Cheterian signs copies of his book, "Open Wounds." JAZMINE O. JONES/The Journal

Vicken Cheterian signs copies of his book, “Open Wounds.” JAZMINE O. JONES/The Journal

“The title refers to the suffering of the grandchildren of the victims and survivors, the fact that there is no recognition of the genocide and there’s no justice being done so their suffering goes on, “ Cheterian said. “It’s like an open wound which keeps on bleeding.”

Cheterian has also covered topics such as the Lebanon War, the conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia and political developments in Russia and Ukraine.

He has been published in a number of newspapers including Le Monde diplomatique based in France and Neue Zuercher Zeitung in Germany.

Cheterian stopped by Webster’s home campus to discuss his new book. The School of Communications sponsored the event in the Emerson Library Conference Room Feb. 16.  

In 2011, Cheterian said his publisher in London asked him if he would be interested in writing a book about the Armenian genocide. Cheterian said he wanted to focus more on the post-genocide history.

“I knew a number of Turkish intellectuals who were fighting for this issue back in Turkey,” Cheterian said. “I wanted to see why the subject had come back to the debate, the conversation in Turkey and why there was such a long silence around this tension.”

Open Wounds talks about how groups appropriate things to the minorities, such as contact with Western educational systems, banking and other areas.

Associate Dean Paaige Turner attended with her copy of the book she later got signed. She said that groups designate things to the minority or the non purist in order to maintain their position and purity.

“They often times give the minorities an opportunity to succeed in ways that they don’t and then become very bitter about it,” Turner said. “I think that’s a lesson that we can learn and sometimes those things that we do to lift ourselves up actually end up putting ourselves down.”

"Open Wounds" tells the story of the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. JAZMINE O. JONES/The Journal

“Open Wounds” tells the story of the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. JAZMINE O. JONES/The Journal

Associate Dean Rick Rockwell also attended at the event. He said the school is interested in the concept of human rights and how that can be communicated better.

“His story talks about how these issues of genocide move through the 20th century and are resonating now in this new century,” Rockwell said. “His mission is also a journalistic mission and a big part of the school is how we tell better stories as journalists, how we tell better stories as members of the media.”

Cheterian said his biggest challenge from writing was having to narrate over one hundred years of history.

“There was some issues I knew well about and there were others that I really needed to do research and discover.” Cheterian said.
Cheterian closed the event with an open Q-and-A, autograph session and pictures with those who attended. He also had a few copies of his books to purchase.

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