There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond

There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond

by Meline Toumani

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Overview

A young Armenian-American goes to Turkey in a "love thine enemy" experiment that becomes a transformative reflection on how we use-and abuse-our personal histories

Meline Toumani grew up in a close-knit Armenian community in New Jersey where Turkish restaurants were shunned and products made in Turkey were boycotted. The source of this enmity was the Armenian genocide of 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government, and Turkey's refusal to acknowledge it. A century onward, Armenian and Turkish lobbies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince governments, courts and scholars of their clashing versions of history.

Frustrated by her community's all-consuming campaigns for genocide recognition, Toumani leaves a promising job at The New York Times and moves to Istanbul. Instead of demonizing Turks, she sets out to understand them, and in a series of extraordinary encounters over the course of four years, she tries to talk about the Armenian issue, finding her way into conversations that are taboo and sometimes illegal. Along the way, we get a snapshot of Turkish society in the throes of change, and an intimate portrait of a writer coming to terms with the issues that drove her halfway across the world.

In this far-reaching quest, told with eloquence and power, Toumani probes universal questions: how to belong to a community without conforming to it, how to acknowledge a tragedy without exploiting it, and most importantly how to remember a genocide without perpetuating the kind of hatred that gave rise to it in the first place.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805097627
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author


Meline Toumani has written extensively for The New York Times on Turkey and Armenia as well as on music, dance, and film. Her work has also appeared in n+1, The Nation, Salon, and The Boston Globe. A journalism fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria, she was also the coordinator of the Russian-American Journalism Institute in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Born in Iran and ethnically Armenian, she grew up in New Jersey and California and now lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Part One: Diaspora

1. When We Talk About What Happened

2. Summer Camp, Franklin, Massachusetts, 1989

3. "How Did They Kill Your Grandparents?"

4. A Real Armenian

5. False Assumptions

6. "With This Madness, What Art Could There Be?"

Part Two: Alternate Realities

7. "So You Are a Bit Mixed Up Now"

8. "Armenians Are Killers of Children"

9. January 19, 2007

Part Three: Turkey

10. Paradoxes

11. Language

12. Knowing and Not Knowing

13. How to Be a Turk

14. Official History

Part Four: Armenia

15. Country on Maps

16. Hello, Homeland!

17. Reunions

Part Five: Power

18. The Narcissism of Small Similarities

19. Excess Baggage

20. Soccer Diplomacy

21. Terms

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There Was and There Was Not: A Journey through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, Toumani misrepresents Armenians and how many of us were brought up.  I am the child of genocide  survivors and I definitely was not taught to hate all Turks.  I was taught to hate what was done to Armenians and to be  aware when similar situations are engulfing other ethnic groups.   If someone who is Jewish went to Germany to learn  the language and lived among Germans to understand them better and their mindset, with the hope of finding ways of  ’softening’ the response Jews have to the Holocaust it would be comparable to what Toumani did!  The absurdity of it would be obvious.  The Turkish state doesn't even recognize what they did.  There is no other way that through hardcore research, into archives by historians which is fortunately being done, will we ever come to be in a better place than we are today.  Fortunately, there are many other Armenians, too, who are working with Turkish colleagues and friends to come to resolution. I have been active in many Armenian organizations over the years, on local and national levels, but never heard of Meline Toumani.  I don't know where her outrage at our community is coming from.  It isn't as though she has tried to work for better ways of reconciliation and has failed.  As far as I know, she has done nothing.