Dialogue about the Armenian Tabou

Interview by Ariane BonzonFOREIGN SALESTurkey (Iletisim)Armenia (Actual Art)Germany (Kitab Verlag)

December 2008: A Turkish petition asks Armenians for forgiveness for the « Great Catastrophe », otherwise known as the 1915 genocide.  The following month, around sixty French and Canadian Armenians respond: « Thank you, Turkish citizens. »  For the first time, the « enemies » had broached a taboo subject.  This book was conceived to give shape and depth to this beginning of a dialogue.  Ahmet Insel, one of the signatories of the Turkish petition, and Michel Marian, one of the initiators of the Armenian response, go face to face.  The book is a conversation between two men, one Turk, one Armenian, about the past, present, and future.  Through their personal and family itineraries, the great events that marked the history of these two peoples are evoked with, as its culminating point, the 1915 genocide and the question of its recognition.

Born in 1955 in Istanbul to a Turkish Sunni Muslim family, Ahmet Insel did his university studies in Paris and directed the Economics Department of the University of Paris I from 1990 to 1994.  Since 2004, he teaches in and directs the Economics Department of Galatasaray University in Istanbul.  In France, he was one of the founders of the review MAUSS (Anti-Utilitarian Movement in the Social Sciences); in Turkey, he participates in the Iletisim venture, the editing house which published the writer Orhan Pamuk, and is a chronicler for the daily Radikal.  Ahmet Insel is the author of numerous books on Turkey.

Michel Marian, born in 1952, holds a post-doctoral degree in public philosophy from the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris.  Part of his family was killed in the 1915 genocide; another part was able to flee, finding refuge in Armenia as well as in France.  Michel Marian has published numerous articles on Armenian questions, most notably in the review Esprit and the Nouvelles d’Arménie magazine.

Ariane Bonzon, born in 1959, is a journalist and essayist.  She lives and works in both Paris and Istanbul, having held several posts as a correspondent in Africa and the Near East.  She is a television director and producer as well.


“The approach is courageous, the tone sometimes frank, sometimes moving, so simply do they tackle subjects which until then lay repressed in the collective Turkish and Armenian unconscious.” Le Monde