Samuel Dolbee, Assistant Professor of History, Vanderbilt University
This presentation examines the environmental dimensions of the Armenian genocide by focusing on the ways that deportees’ lives and deaths intersected with the ecology of locusts in the arid region known as the Jazira, today stretching across northeastern Syria, northwest Iraq, and southeast Turkey. Locusts not only served as potent metaphors for those attempting to understand their situation amidst the Ottoman state’s wartime genocidal policies. The insects also became more directly connected to the violence, such as in the case of the German locust expert who argued that the deportations made the locust problem worse, or the Armenian locust control officer who managed to live and save others all the while killing the region’s distinctive insects. Based on research from the book Locusts of Power: Borders, Empire, and Environment in the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2023), the presentation ultimately explores how the environment structured both suffering and survival.
Cant’t attend in person? Join us online!
For more information, contact Professor Faisal Husain, Penn State History.