1st Edition

Embattled Dreamlands The Politics of Contesting Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish Memory

By David Leupold Copyright 2020
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Winner of the 2021 annual book award of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS).

    “David Leupold’s exceptional book explores the complex and contested Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian visions of homeland in the greater Van region of contemporary Turkey. Through a layered analysis of collective violence, constructed national histories, and imagined homelands, Embattled Dreamlands demonstrates how violence and population displacement in the early 1900s produced homeland imaginaries and mutually exclusive interpretations of the past. Based on five years of ethnographic and historical research, Leupold’s rich tapestry of Ottoman and Soviet history, imagined geographies, and national narratives makes unique theoretical contributions to studies of collective memory and provides an insightful and impartial assessment of sectarian and national identities. The book invites us to evaluate critically and carefully our past and its impact on our contemporary imagined worlds.”


    Embattled Dreamlands explores the complex relationship between competing national myths, imagined boundaries and local memories in the threefold-contested geography referred to as Eastern Turkey, Western Armenia or Northern Kurdistan.

    Spatially rooted in the shatter zone of the post-Ottoman and post-Soviet space, it sheds light on the multi-layered memory landscape of the Lake Van region in Southeastern Turkey, where collective violence stretches back from the Armenian Genocide to the Kurdish conflict of today. Based on his fieldwork in Turkey and Armenia, the author examines how states work to construct and monopolize collective memory by narrating, silencing, mapping and performing the past, and how these narratives might help to contribute and resolve present-day conflicts.

    By looking at how national discourses are constructed and asking hard questions about why nations are imagined as exclusive and hostile to others, Embattled Dreamlands provides a unique insight into the development of national identity which will provide a great resource to students and researchers in sociology and history alike.


    Introduction: Fatal Ties: Armenians, Kurds And Turks

    1. Saving the Empire, Killing Its Subjects: Circassian And Armenian Tales
    2. Eternal Histories, Elusive Homelands: Eastern Turkey. Western Armenia. Northern Kurdistan.
    3. Mirrored Narratives: Remembering as the Nation
    4. Mnemonic Frontiers, Alien Homelands: The Greater Van Region, The Residing and the Expelled
    5. Entwined Narratives: Remembering Beyond the Nation

    Conclusion: Old Nightmares, New Awakenings


    David Leupold is a 2018–2019 Manoogian post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan. He focuses his research on politics of memory in the post-Ottoman and post-Soviet space.

    "Whether it is the politics of memory or the histoire croisée of Anatolia or deep dives into discourses, David Leupold has something important to tell us that transcends the embattled dreamlands that are at the center of this extraordinary book."

    From the foreword by Ronald G. Suny, the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan

    "A model of interdisciplinary scholarship that helps us understand how the intricacies of statecraft can be deployed to direct and transform historical thinking. Leupold brings a rich past back to life in this multi-layered (and impressively polyglot) study."

    Bruce Grant, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, New York University