From the domestic politics of Turkey and Armenia, to the lobbying corridors of the US Congress, the subject of the Armenian genocide has been discussed and dissected by a global community of historians, sociologists, and conflict resolution experts, as well as by diplomats, lobbyists, journalists, and authors.
One could get a sense of the political conjecture by following the press releases emanating from Ankara or Yerevan; or one could determine the state of historical research by following the manuscripts of a select group of academics. But trying to glean an overall sense of what one individual (ethnically Armenian or Turkish) thinks and feels about another has been historically difficult. Why? First, the issue is so controversial, so political, and so contentious on a global scale that any “stories” belonging to non-political actors-people of Armenian and Turkish heritage-have been pushed to the sidelines. Second, and more significant for those wanting to avoid politics, most civil society activities designed to bring such people together for much-needed dialogue usually do fall victim to political conjecture, or simply suffer from a lack of funding.
Is it possible for a truly independent and genuinely grassroots effort to take hold in a community of Turkish and Armenian people, away from the machinations of global politics and high-stakes diplomacy? That question remains unanswered but not for a lack of trying. Case in point: TAWA, the Turkish-Armenian Women’s Alliance. Between September 2012 and May 2014, a group of thirteen Armenian and Turkish women, of varying backgrounds and ages, met under the acronym TAWA in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They met, talked, shared a few meals, watched a few videos and tried to listen to each other, meeting in the evening hours every other month. In their first year, Boston lived through the tragedy of the Marathon bombing. The next year was 2015, marking the hundredth year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. During those two years, TAWA lived through some difficult moments, lost a member in the interim, and finally lost momentum. In May 2014, TAWA started a slow dissolve, transforming into a loose alliance of Turkish and Armenian women who had lived through a unique experience.
Here on the TAWA Videos page you will find a few interviews from 2012-2013, conducted with those TAWA participants who agreed to be interviewed on camera, separate and outside of the group meetings. You will also find clips from 2016, with a few of the participants, reflecting on TAWA, two years after it dissolved.