Mehmet Polatel, Ph.D.
Center Junior Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Dr. Polatel received his PhD in Modern Turkish History from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey in 2017 with his dissertation “Armenians and the Land Question in the Ottoman Empire, 1870-1914.” His research interests include mass violence, state-society relations, the dispossession of Armenians and the late Ottoman Empire. Prior to receiving his PhD, he earned a BA in International Relations from the University of Ankara in 2007 and an MA in Comparative Studies in History and Society from Koç University, Istanbul in 2009. He has worked as a research coordinator at the Hrant Dink Foundation in Istanbul and as a teaching assistant in history at Koç University. After receiving his PhD, Dr. Polatel was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in Armenian Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has received multiple research grants and awards, including the 2018 Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Society for Armenian Studies, grants from the Hrant Dink Foundation (2015) and the Calouste Gulbekian Foundation (2014-2015), and the 2009 International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies Scholarship from the University of Toronto and Zoryan Institute. 

Dr. Polatel has published over two dozen manuscripts, including two monographs and four co-edited volumes, and a series of articles and book chapters in publications such as the Journal of Genocide Research, The Ottoman East in the Nineteenth Century: Societies, Identities and Politics (2016) and Unhealed Wounds, Perpetuated Patterns: The Middle East in the Shadow of World War I and Genocide (forthcoming). He has presented on his research at workshops and conferences across the globe, including the 2018 international workshop “Property Rights in Wartime: Sequestration, Confiscation, Restitution” at the University of Napoli-Federico II, the 2017 UC Berkeley conference “New Directions in Armenian Ottoman Studies” and the 2017 Jewish Museum of Belgium international colloquium “Minorities in/at War: Between Violence and Legal Protection.”

During his residency at the Center, Dr. Polatel will conduct research in the Visual History Archive for a research project on the confiscation and looting of Armenian properties during the genocide. In particular, he plans to cross-check the individuals who survivors name as perpetrators and participants in looting and confiscation in their VHA interviews with a dataset he compiled listing the names of those who confiscated Armenian properties during and after the massacres of 1894-97. He hopes that this research will “facilitate the integration of the narratives, experiences and knowledge of survivors to the literature on the Armenian genocide and will be the first study to trace the connections between the processes of mass violence and looting that targeted Armenians during the 1890s and the Armenian Genocide of 1915.”