Department or Program



The Turkish government’s 98-year-old denial of the Armenian genocide presents an unprecedented case of unacknowledged atrocities. Four years after the failed 2009 Protocols between the Republics of Turkey and Armenia, and nearly a century after the massacres of Ottoman Armenians, it is now a critical time to understand how and why the Turkish state continues to wash away one of the darkest spots in its history through a sustained policy of denial. Why is recognition of the events of 1915 as “genocide” so vigorously contested inTurkey? After almost 100 years, what sustains the denial of the Armenian genocide as an official policy of the Turkish state? More broadly, why do states refuse to acknowledge past atrocities, sometimes decades after their commission? I investigate this puzzle vis-à-vis the two “faces” of state action and examine competing explanations for why states acknowledge or deny past atrocities. According to the Realist paradigm of international relations scholarship, state acknowledgement and/or denial stems from considerations of power and exogenously given preferences. By contrast, the Liberal paradigm maintains that underlying preferences embedded in domestic politics control and condition the same behavior. Ultimately, I contend that the Liberal paradigm has greater explanatory power in light of the domestic interlocutors that mediate, filter and refract the efforts to extract official acknowledgment of past atrocities. This is illustrated in the case studies of Turkey and Japan, where official policies of denial or revisionism are sustained through the playing out of partisan politics geared to the promotion and preservation of national identity.

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Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Scheideman, Jason

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 word document