On Friday, October 25, Taner Akçam, professor of history and the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his steadfast devotion to uncovering the truth behind the Armenian Genocide.
Akçam will be recognized by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan in Fair Lawn, N.J.; the group will also posthumously honor the late Aram Andonian and Reverend Fr. Krikor Guerguerian, who initiated and preserved the Istanbul Military Tribunal Documents of 1919-1921. Akcam recently worked with Turkish experts and graduate students to create a digital repository so that scholars around the world can access Guerguerian’s vast collection of documents outlining the atrocities against the Armenian people.
“We are indebted to Dr. Akçam for dedicating his career to researching the Armenian Genocide,” wrote Hirant Gulian, chairman emeritus of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan. “This milestone event is our way of showing our gratitude to his years of service.”
President David Angel praised the Knights and Daughters of Vartan’s decision to recognized Akcam. “Clark University is proud to have him on its faculty, especially in light of our motto, ‘Challenge Convention. Change Our World.’ He has admirably achieved that lofty ambition through his brave work,” he said. “An outspoken advocate of democracy and free expression … he has deployed scholarship to face the past honestly.”
Akçam will receive another honor on November 9 at a meeting of the Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER). Both he and Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) will be presented with the group’s Freedom Award, which recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions toward issues that concern Armenian Americans.
Steve Mesrobian, co-chair of the 2019 ANCA-ER Banquet Committee, said Akçam “has dedicated his life to truth-telling and accuracy in teaching and research, and we are eager to present him with this year’s ANCA-ER Freedom Award.”
Akçam is one of the first Turkish intellectuals to acknowledge and openly discuss the Armenian Genocide. In recent years, The New York Times called him “The Sherlock Holmes of the Armenian Genocide.” His 2018 book, “Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide,” includes a document — a “smoking gun” — that points to the Ottoman government’s central role in planning the elimination of its Armenian population.
Akçam has been honored with several prestigious awards in recent years at gatherings big and small. Last month, the Organization of Istanbul Armenians presented him with the inaugural Vahakn Dadrian Genocide Scholarship Award, an award that recognizes outstanding and internationally prominent scholars whose research, writings, and actions have advanced Vahakn N. Dadrian’s vision of justice for, and prevention of genocides as well as the promotion of human dignity.
Dadrian was among the first scholars to discuss the Armenian Genocide; he also happened to be a dear friend and colleague of Akçam’s.
“It is a great honor for me to be the first recipient of this award — not only for its symbolism, but for its profound meaning for me personally,” Akçam said in his acceptance speech, and noted that if it weren’t for Dadrian, he most likely wouldn’t have studied the Armenian Genocide or even come to the United States.
“It can now be said that the Armenian Genocide has taken its rightful place within the field of genocide studies,” Akçam said. “It is a forgotten genocide no more, and for this we have the pioneering researchers to thank — Dadrian first and foremost among them.”