Halil Berktay

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Halil Berktay
Born (1947-08-27) August 27, 1947 (age 70)
Nationality Turkish
Alma mater Yale University, Birmingham University
Scientific career
Fields Turkish history
Institutions Sabanci University,
Ankara University,
Middle East Technical University,
Harvard University

Halil Berktay is a Turkish historian at Sabancı University[1] and columnist for the daily Taraf.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Berktay was born into an intellectual Turkish Communist family. His father, Erdogan Berktay, was a member of the old clandestine Communist Party of Turkey. As a result of this influence, Halil Berktay remained a Maoist for two decades, before becoming "an independent left-intellectual".[3]

After graduating from Robert College in 1964, Berktay studied economics at Yale University receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1968 and Master of Arts in 1969.[1] He went on to earn a PhD from Birmingham University in 1990.[1] He worked as lecturer at Ankara University between 1969–1971 and 1978–1983.[1] He took part in the founding of the Yale chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society.[3]

Between 1992–1997, he taught at both the Middle East Technical University and Boğaziçi University. He was a visiting scholar at Harvard University in 1997, and taught at Sabancı University before returning to Harvard in 2006.

Berktay's research areas are the history and historiography of Turkish nationalism in the 20th century. He studies social and economic history (including that of Europe, and especially medieval history) from a comparative perspective. He has also written on the construction of Turkish national memory.[1]

In September 2005, Berktay and fellow historians, including Murat Belge, Edhem Eldem, Selim Deringil, convened at an academic conference to discuss the fall of the Ottoman Empire.[4][5]

As a supporter of open dialogue in Turkey regarding the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's denial, Berktay has received threats in his country. He has two daughters, Ada Berktay and Aslıgül Berktay, from two separate marriages.[citation needed]

Berktay uncovered that the Turkish government purged many of the evidence's and documents regarding the Armenian Genocide found in the Turkish archives.[6] According to him, the archive cleaning was “most probably implemented by Muharrem Nuri Birgi, a former Turkish ambassador to London and NATO and Secretary General of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”[6] Berktay also claims that “at the time he was combing the archives, Nuri Birgi met regularly with a mutual friend and at one point, referring to the Armenians, ruefully confessed: ‘We really slaughtered them.’”[6]

Why don’t we reconsider this idea of a commission? The Turkish government appoints ten Turkish historians but also picks and appoints 5 Armenian or Diaspora Armenian historians. And the Armenian government, likewise, appoints 10 Armenian and 5 Turkish or Turkish Diaspora historians. Then these thirty historians collectively appoint ten international historian, non-Turks and non-Armenians. Now in that case we would have real dialogue.

— Berktay[citation needed]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Kabileden Feodalizme, Kaynak Yayınları, 1983
  • Cumhuriyet İdeolojisi ve Fuad Köprülü, Kaynak Yayınları, 1983
  • Bir Dönem Kapanırken, Pencere Yayınları, 1991
  • New Approaches to State and Peasant in Ottoman History (eds. Halil Berktay and Suraiya Faroqhi), ISBN 0-7146-3468-9


  1. ^ a b c d e Curriculum vitæ, Sabanci University.
  2. ^ Okuma Notlari Archived 2008-09-13 at the Wayback Machine., Taraf.
  3. ^ a b Berktay, Halil (2007-04-24). "A Genocide, Three Constituencies, Thoughts for the Future (Part I)" (PDF). Armenian Weekly. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2008-09-04.  (Talk given at the "Armenians and the Left" symposium on March 31, 2007.)
  4. ^ Conferences, personal Web site, Sabanci University.
  5. ^ Didem Turkoglu, Challenging the National History--Competing discourses about a Conference, Submitted to Central European University Nationalism Studies Program In Partial Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Budapest, Hungary, 2006
  6. ^ a b c Abrahamyan, Gayane (September 16, 2011). "WikiLeaks on Armenian Genocide: Turkey 'Purged' Archives to Destroy Evidence". The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 

External links[edit]