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Heim Memorial Lecture: “Translating Erased Histories” with Dr. Maureen Freely
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About the Lecture
20 years ago, a loose-knit collective of Turkish journalists, lawyers, writers, publishers, and social justice advocates banded together to tell the truth about the Armenian genocide to the Turkish people, who had by then been subjected to denialist lies for the better part of a century. The state’s false narrative was so fiercely enforced that even those of full or partial Armenian descent were often afraid to tell the truth to their children. Hrant Dink was amongst the first to break the taboo in his newspaper, Agos. It was with his encouragement that his lawyer, Fethiye Çetin, wrote about her grandmother, who told her very late in life that she’d been ‘rescued’ from a death march to be renamed and Islamicised. The first of its kind in Turkey, this memoir offered readers a chance to open conversations about “stories like this in our own family.”
When Maureen Freely decided to take time off from translating Orhan Pamuk to bring this and two other related books into English, she knew full well that the descendants of genocide survivors outside Turkey would find little new in them. Even so, she thought it important that they be read outside their land of origin. In this lecture, she will set out her own reasons for embarking on this unquiet journey, before considering the political and literary implications of giving voice to erased histories.
About the Speaker
Maureen Freely is a writer with seven novels to her name and many other strings to her bow. She grew up in Istanbul, on the campus of the old Robert College. Well known as a translator of the Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, she has also brought into English several classics and works by Turkey’s rising stars. For many years she worked as a journalist in London, writing about literature, feminism, social justice, and human rights. As chair of the Translator’s Association and more recently as President and Chair of English PEN, she has campaigned for writers and freedom of expression internationally. She teaches at the University of Warwick.