01 May 2015

3547) Exposing Akcam's Shady Scholarship To Princeton University Press

To: Peter_Dougherty@press.princeton.edu ; Martha_Camp@press.princeton.edu ; Al_Bertrand@press.princeton.edu ; Patrick_Carroll@press.princeton.edu ; Brigitta_van_Rheinberg@press.princeton.edu ; Caroline_Priday@press.princeton.edu ; Sarah_Caro@press.princeton.edu

Cc: eweitz@ccny.cuny.edu ; hanioglu@princeton.edu ; norman@bilkent.edu.tr

Sent: April 03, 2015

Subject: You have published a book based on manipulated data and still keep it in your catalogue

Dear Publishers,

You have published a book three years ago that was exposed to be plagued with serious violations of scholarly ethics, involving the use of fictional documents, doctored materials and embellishment of dubious sources. Authored by Taner Akçam, this book is called The Young Turks’ Crime against Humanity. This revelation must be very troubling for you, I realize, but it is scholarly and thoroughly explained in the detailed review essay by Maxime Gauin in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (Routledge): . . .

https://www.academia.edu/11715403/_Proving_a_Crime_against_Humanity .

Please note that the first version of this book, published in Turkish in 2008, already contained such misuse of primary sources and distortion of archival materials for which you can find the critique in this U.S. academic journal (Middle East Policy) in 2010:


These reviews, highly critical of Akcam's works and scholarly ethics, went unanswered by Mr. Akçam to this day. Similarly, Akçam had remained silent after the publication, in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (2008) of a review essay exposing many manipulations of sources and factual errors contained in his previous book, A Shameful Act (2006).

The trouble with Akcam's works seems to be that he starts with a conviction and then tries hard to find selective sources to support his case. But it gets worse. He is known to get "creative"—in fact, too creative for scholarly comfort-- in quoting, translating, and/or interpreting archival documents. His works, should be filed under "Ethocide", a supplementary/companion term for genocide that is defined as "systematic extermination of ethics via malicious mass deception for political gain".

I ought to know, because I was so disappointed by Akcam's persistent practice of misusing archival documents and misinforming the unsuspecting public, that I wrote to the president of the University of Minnesota in 2007. I questioned Akcam's credentials as he was going around the country and introducing himself as an associate professor at UM History Department. I simply could not see how a "visiting scholar" with a PhD in Sociology, with rather poor English language skills, and a criminal record—a convicted terrorist who escaped prison in 1970s in Turkey—could rise to associate professorship of history of a respectable American university, in just a few short years. You can find my letter and the response I received from the legal counselor of the UM here:

Armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/05/2464-it-is-official-taner-akcam-is-paid.html .

Here you can also see a photo of Akcam, introducing himself to his unsuspecting audience as associate professor of history of the UM, caught in the act, red-handed, leaving no room for doubt that he was misrepresenting himself and his credentials, as the UM legal counselor's letter clearly stated that Akcam was a "research associate", not associate professor. Akcam must have also revealed to his audience that his position while at the University of Minnesota had been financed by the Zoryan Institute and Cafesian Foundation, both Armenian organizations known for their anti-Turkism, and it is financed now at Clark University by yet other Armenian sources, directly or indirectly. This is the least Akcam can do if he respects the concept of truth-in-advertising.

Turkish version of another one of Akcam's books had been reviewed in Middle East Policy and many cases of deliberate misuse of archival documents were explained in minute details:
Turkishcanadians.com/wp-content/uploads/armenian_question.pdf .
Akcam has not responded to this one, either.

Another example of revelations of Akcam's poor work was penned by Sean McMeekin, The Russian Origins of the First World War, Cambridge (Massachusetts)-London: Harvard University Press, 2011, p. 276, n. 62, and p. 278, n. 75. (No response by Akcam.)

Jeremy Salt exposed more of the same in The Unmaking of the Middle East, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London: University of California Press, 2008, pp. 369-370, n. 76. (No response by Akcam.)

What you will see in all of these references, is a disturbing trend by Akcam, of manipulating data to suit his needs. Akcam violates scholarly ethics by using forged documents, distorting Ottoman and German sources, misusing the accounts of the 1919-1920 trials in occupied Istanbul, not responding to scholarly critiques anywhere, including those published by Anglo-Saxon academic journals.

I sincerely believe, Therefore, that keeping a publication by a discredited author can hardly be a scholarly move for a respectable university publishing house.



Son of Turkish Survivors of massacres committed by, among others, Armenians


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