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Justice, Revenge and the Haunting of Soghomon Tehlirian
Soghomon Tehlirian was acquitted in Berlin in 1921 for the killing of Talat Paşa, Ottoman minister and architect of the Armenian Genocide. Reading Tehlirian’s memoir, which first appeared in Armenian in 1953, in the “speculative” mode (Kazanjian 2016), this paper challenges clear-cut distinctions between the medical discourse of insanity and the legal discourse of intentionality, between revenge and justice, and between truth and fabulation. Inspired by Saidiya Hartman’s call (2008) for critical fabulation, I move beyond the designation of Tehlirian as mere political assassin or self-evident moral witness and consider him instead as an empirical fabulist. I follow Tehlirian’s mother’s ghost as the spectral figure that hovers over both Tehlirian and the critic in the path towards a greater understanding of truth, revenge and retribution when the collective experience of violence exceeds the limits of the genre of personal testimony and when justice is not served within normative legal frameworks.
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All Middle East
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