Not Like a Lamb to the Slaughter: Humanitarian Resistance during the Armenian Genocide

By Khatchig Mouradian
Submitted to Session P4783 (Humanitarianism in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, 2017 Annual Meeting
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The scholarship (and the popular discourse) on humanitarian efforts during the Armenian genocide focuses on the role of western missionaries and consuls, who emerge as selfless heroes protecting and saving hundreds of thousands of helpless Armenians. What remains neglected in scholarly inquiry is Armenian agency. In this paper, drawing upon previously untapped primary sources as well as fresh insights from others, I argue that it was the Armenians who drove this humanitarian resistance waged in the Ottoman Empire during the genocide. Focusing on Aleppo and a the network of concentration camps in Ras ul-Ain and along the banks of the Euphrates River from Meskeneh to Der Zor during the World War I, I explore the interactions between the local, regional, and central authorities on the one hand, and the humanitarian resistance waged by a network of Armenians aided by locals and western missionaries on the other, challenging explicit and implicit depictions of Armenians as passive recipients of violence on the one hand, and western humanitarianism on the other.