, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 170–189 | Cite as

Treasure/Fetish/Gift: hunting for ‘Armenian gold’ in post-genocide Turkish Kurdistan

  • Alice von BiebersteinEmail author
Original Article


This article ethnographically attends to the widespread practice of hunting for ‘Armenian’ treasures in Eastern Turkey. It explores the double valence of shadow—as that which gives power to vision, which makes present and mediates, and as that which can overpower vision, which obscures and hides—as it manifests in treasure hunting, conceived of as a complex encounter with the Armenian history of the region. Treasures, as shadows carrying this split potential, are intimately bound up with both the Turkish nation-state project built on genocide, dispossession and denial, and with the particular position Kurds hold within this constellation. I draw on the notions of fetish and the gift to think through treasures as shadows in their double potentiality across time, as they become recognised—or not—as part of a relational matrix involving their historical makers and the present-day diggers.


Turkey Armenian genocide Treasures Fetish Gift 



Research for this article has been made possible by the European Research Council (grant number ERC2011_stG_20101124). It has benefitted from discussions on an earlier version presented in Vilnius, Lithuania, as part of the ‘Shadowing the Scene’ conference. I would further like to thank Eirini Avramopoulou, Mantas Kvedaravicius and Marc Nichanian for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. All translations, unless otherwise noted, are mine.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wissenschaftskolleg zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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