Justin McCarthy (American historian)

Justin A. McCarthy
Born (1945-10-19) October 19, 1945 (age 75)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California at Los Angeles
Awards Order of Merit of Turkey (1998)
Scientific career
Fields Histories of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans
Institutions University of Louisville

Justin A. McCarthy (born October 19, 1945) is an American demographer, professor of history at the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Kentucky. He holds an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University, Turkey, and is a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies[1][2] and the Center for Eurasian Studies (AVIM).[3] His area of expertise is the history of the late Ottoman Empire.[4][5]

McCarthy's work has faced harsh criticism by many scholars who have characterized McCarthy's views defending Turkish atrocities against Armenians as genocide denial.[6][7][8][9] Hans-Lukas Kieser considers that McCarthy has "an indefensible bias toward the Turkish official position".[10]


McCarthy served in the Peace Corps in Turkey, from 1967 to 1969, where he taught at Middle East Technical University and Ankara University.[11] He earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Los Angeles in 1978.[12] He later received an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University.[11] McCarthy is also a board member of the Institute of Turkish Studies.[1][2]


On Ottoman Empire

McCarthy's studies concentrate on the period in which the Ottoman Empire crumbled and eventually fell apart. McCarthy believes that orthodox Western histories of the declining Ottoman Empire are biased, since they are based on the testimonies of biased observers: Christian missionaries, and officials of (Christian) nations who were at war with the Ottomans during World War I.[13][14][15] Able to read Ottoman Turkish, he focuses on changes in the ethnic composition of local populations. Thus, he has written about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the Balkans and the Caucasus, as well as the Armenian massacres in Anatolia.[13] Scholarly critics of McCarthy acknowledge that his research on Muslim civilian casualties and refugee numbers (19th and early 20th centuries) has brought forth a valuable perspective, previously neglected in the Christian West: that millions of Muslims and Jews also suffered and died during these years.[16][17] Donald W. Bleacher, though acknowledging that McCarthy is pro-Turkish nonetheless has called Death and Exile "a necessary corrective" challenging the West's model of all victims being Christians and all perpetrators as being Muslims.[17]

McCarthy's current concentration is on the factors that caused the Ottoman loss in the East in World War I.[13] According to him, the milestone events are the Battle of Sarikamish and what he terms the "Armenian Revolt" at Van.[18] Norman Stone praised Justin McCarthy's The Ottoman Turks: "a brave scholarly attempt, not shrinking from the economic side."[19] Similarly, The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire was recommended by The History Teacher.[20]

McCarthy also worked on the image of the Ottoman Turks, especially in America (The Turk in America), with a focus on the anti-Turkish prejudices disseminated by some missionaries, from the beginning of the 19th century to 1922.[21]

Armenian genocide

McCarthy agrees that a large number of Armenians were killed or died of unnatural causes during the massacres of 1915–1923, but he argues that millions of Muslims [22] in the region were also massacred in this period and many at the "hands of Armenian insurgents and militia".[23] He has claimed that all of those deaths during World War I were the product of intercommunal warfare between Turks, Kurds and Armenians, famine and disease, and did not involve an intent or a policy to commit genocide by the Ottoman Empire. McCarthy has been active in publishing the results of his work and analysis, that Ottomans never had an official state sanctioned policy of genocide, through books, articles, conferences, and interviews.[24] This has made him a target of much criticism from historians and organizations. He was one of four scholars who participated in a controversial debate hosted by PBS about the Armenian genocide in 2006.[25] Aviel Roshwald describes McCarthy's "version of these events" as "defensively pro-Turkish."[26]

Michael M. Gunter congratulated Justin McCarthy for Muslim and Minorities: "His work is clearly the best available on the subject and merits the close attention of any serious, disinterested scholar"; and "his figure" of the Armenian losses (600,000) "is probably the most accurate we have."[27] Justin McCarthy's work on the demography of Anatolian populations, especially the Armenians, was also recommended by Gilles Veinstein [fr], professor of Ottoman history at the Collège de France.[28] Both Gunter[29] and Veinstein[30] have been accused of holding denialist positions on the Armenian genocide.


Muslim demographics

The American Historical Review states of Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821–1922 (1996):

One may pick arguments with specific interpretations of events depicted in the work, but the statistical data appear generally valid. McCarthy succeeds in providing factual material for bringing the European historiography of the later Ottoman Empire into more objective balance.[31]

The International Journal of Middle East Studies says of the same book:

Like all of the author's other works, this one offers positions that become pivots for rebuttals, disagreements, counter-arguments, different interpretations, and probably some recriminations. Nonetheless, Justin McCarthy's solid demographic work contributes to achieving a better balance and understanding that he so ardently desires for the history of these regions and peoples.[32]

According to Michael Mann McCarthy is often viewed as a scholar on the Turkish side of the debate over Balkan Muslim death figures.[33] Mann however states that even if those figures were reduced "by as much as 50 percent, they still would horrify".[33] Donald Bloxham, a University of Edinburgh historian specializing in genocide studies, states that "McCarthy's work has something to offer in drawing attention to the oft-unheeded history of Muslim suffering and embattlement... It also shows that vicious nationalism was by no means the sole preserve" of the Ottoman ruling elite.[34]

Armenian genocide

McCarthy's work has been the subject of criticism from book reviewers and a number of genocide scholars.[9][35][36][37] According to Israeli historian Yair Auron, McCarthy, "with Heath Lowry, Lewis' successor in Princeton, leads the list of deniers of the Armenian genocide."[6] "The Encyclopedia of Genocide" writes, that Stanford Shaw and McCarthy have published shoddy and desperate books claiming there was no genocide and that "the Turkish government really treated the Armenians nicely while they were deporting and killing them", and particularly, "McCarthy revises demography to suggest that there really weren't many Armenians in historic Armenia".[38] Among other criticisms, he has been accused by Colin Imber of following a Turkish nationalistic agenda.[39] According to the "Encyclopedia of Human Rights", in their efforts to negate the genocidal nature of the event, Lewis, Shaw, McCarthy and Lewy, most notably, "have ignored the evidence and conclusions of the massive record of documents and decades of scholarship" as well as the 1948 UN Genocide Convention's definition, and these "denialist scholars have engaged in what is called unethical practice".[40] The historian Mark Mazower considers McCarthy's sources and, in particular, his statistics to be "less balanced" than those of other historians working in this area.[41] McCarthy is a member of, and has received grants from, the Institute of Turkish Studies.[42] According to historian Richard G. Hovannisian, Stanford Shaw, Heath Lowry and Justin McCarthy all use arguments similar to those found in Holocaust denial.[43]

Flavia Lattanzi, former ICTY judge, says that "In the propagandist conferences and in other symposiums of prof. McCarthy I did not hear any reference to elders, women, children. It seems that the Armenian community was only composed of combatants killing Turkish combatants and civilians." She also states that he relies on a "completely wrong definition of genocide".[44]

Bloxham identifies McCarthy's work as part of a wider project of undermining scholarship affirming the Armenian genocide, by reducing it to something analogous to a population exchange.[34] Bloxham writes that McCarthy's work "[serves] to muddy the waters for external observers, conflating war and one-sided murder with various discrete episodes of ethnic conflict... [A] series of easy get-out clauses for Western politicians and non-specialist historians keen not to offend Turkish opinion."[34] Samuel Totten and Steven L. Jacobs write that Shaw's and his adherents' (especially Lowry and McCarthy) publications have "striking similarities to the arguments used in the denial of the holocaust": labeling the alleged genocide as a myth by wartime propaganda, portraying the presumed victims as having been real security threats, discounting eye-witness accounts, asserting that deaths occurred were from the same causes that carried away all peoples in the region, minimizing the number of victims, and so on.[45] Likewise, Ronald Grigor Suny maintains that the number of Armenian genocide deniers is small (the most prominent being Shaw, McCarthy, Lowry and Lewis) but "their influence is great by virtue of pernicious alliance with the official campaign of falsification by the government of Turkey".[46]


Armenian Assembly of America

McCarthy lent support to the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, which led an effort to defeat recognition of the Armenian genocide by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1985.[39][47]

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Australian Federal Parliament

In November 2013, McCarthy's three planned meetings at the Australian Federal Parliament, University of Melbourne and Art Gallery of New South Wales were canceled on the grounds of his denialist views on the Armenian genocide.[48] On 20 November 2013 the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has released a statement raising questions about the quality of McCarthy's analysis and expressing their deep concerns of McCarthy's upcoming address in Australian Parliament. They noted that "whilst freedom of expression and academic freedom require that Professor McCarthy must be at liberty to put forward his theories, the manner in which he does so must not lapse into racial vilification".[49] Member of Australia's Parliament, Greens spokesman on multiculturalism Richard Di Natale told the Sydney Morning Herald that "Justin McCarthy is a rallying point for those who deny the Armenian genocide".[50] According to Liberal member John Alexander, "revisionist Justin McCarthy has used parliamentary facilities to promote his well-documented views questioning the systematic slaughter of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian Greeks from 1915 to 1923."[51]



  • Şükrü Elekdağ Award of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations
  • Chairman's Education Award of the Turkish American Friendship Council
  • Order of Merit of Turkey (1998)[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b MacDonald, David B. Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: the Holocaust and Historical Representation. London: Routledge, 2008, p. 121. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  2. ^ a b "Board of Governors". Institute of Turkish Studies. 2008-11-04. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  3. ^ http://avim.org.tr/en/Menu/Advisory-Board
  4. ^ Justin McCarthy. Home page of another academic with whom he served in the Peace Corps.
  5. ^ University of Louisville :: The Expert Source :: Expert Details
  6. ^ a b Auron, Yair. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2003, p. 248.
  7. ^ Charny, Israel W. Encyclopedia of Genocide, Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1999, p. 163.
  8. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. "Ottoman Archives and the Armenian Genocide" in The Armenian Genocide: History, Politics, Ethics. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1992, p. 284.
  9. ^ a b Hovannisian, Richard G. "Denial of the Armenian Genocide in Comparison with Holocaust Denial" in Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999, p. 210.
  10. ^ Kieser, Hans-Lukas; Oktem, Kerem; Reinkowski, Maurus (2015). "Introduction". World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85772-744-2.
  11. ^ a b c Mustafa Aydin, Çağrı Erhan (2004) Turkish-American Relations: Past, Present, and Future, xii
  12. ^ Bloxham, Donald. The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 214.
  13. ^ a b c McCarthy 1995
  14. ^ McCarthy's 1995 testimony before the US Congress
  15. ^ McCarthy, Justin (March 24, 2005). "Armenian-Turkish Conflict". Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  16. ^ Bloxham. The Great Game of Genocide, p. 210. "Some of McCarthy's work considers the great population changes of the period, including extensive examination of the expulsion of Muslims from the new Balkan states and the overall demographic catastrophes of 1912–23... McCarthy's work has something to offer in drawing attention to the oft-unheeded history of Muslim suffering and embattlement that shaped the mindset of the perpetrators of 1915. It also shows that vicious ethnic nationalism was by no means the sole preserve of the CUP and its successors."
  17. ^ a b Beachler, Donald W. (2011). The genocide debate: politicians, academics, and victims. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-230-33763-3. "Justin McCarthy has, along with other historians, provided a necessary corrective to much of the history produced by scholars of the Armenian genocide in the United States. McCarthy demonstrates that not all of the ethnic cleansing and ethnic killing in the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries followed the model often posited in the West, whereby all the victims were Christian and all the perpetrators were Muslim. McCarthy has shown that there were mass killings of Muslims and deportations of millions of Muslims from the Balkans and the Caucasus over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. McCarthy, who is labeled (correctly in this author's estimation) as being pro- Turkish by some writers and is a denier of the Armenian genocide, has estimated that about 5.5 million Muslims were killed in the hundred years from 1821–1922. Several million more refugees poured out of the Balkans and Russian conquered areas, forming a large refugee (muhajir) community in Istanbul and Anatolia."
  18. ^ McCarthy, Justin. The Armenian Rebellion at Van. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2006.
  19. ^ Norman Stone, Turkey: A Short History, London: Thames & Hudson, 2010, p. 175.
  20. ^ Richard S. Stewart, "Review", The History Teacher, vol. 36, n° 4, August 2003.
  21. ^ Justin McCarthy. The Creation of Enduring Prejudice.
  22. ^ McCarthy, Justin Let the Historians Decide, Ermeni Arastirmalari, volume 1, Ankara 2001.
  23. ^ McCarthy, Justin Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821–1922. Darwin Press, Incorporated, 1996, ISBN 0-87850-094-4
  24. ^ Jaschik, Scott (October 22, 2007). "Genocide Deniers".
  25. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (2006-04-17). "A PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for the Armenian Genocide, With or Without a Debate". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-09-02.
  26. ^ Roshwald, Aviel, Ethnic nationalism & the fall of Empires: Central Europe, Russia and the Middle East, 1914–1923, Routledge, 2001, p. 91.
  27. ^ Michael M. Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of their People". A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism, Westport-New York-London: Greenwood Press, 1986, pp. 11 and 19.
  28. ^ Gilles Veinstein, "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  29. ^ Joseph A. Kéchichian. A Response to Michael Gunter's Review of "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Aug., 2007), pp. 509-512
  30. ^ Confusionnisme au Collège de France Catherine Coquio dans Libération du 28 December 1998
  31. ^ Dennis P. Hupchick, "Review", American Historical Review (1997) 102#3 pp. 856-857
  32. ^ Robert Olson, "Review," International Journal of Middle East Studies (1997) 29#4 pp. 657-659
  33. ^ a b Mann, Michael (2005). The dark side of democracy: explaining ethnic cleansing. Cambridge University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0521538548. "In the Balkans all statistics of death remain contested. Most of the following figures derive from McCarthy (1995: 1, 91, 161-4, 339), who is often viewed as a scholar on the Turkish side of the debate. Yet even if we reduced his figures by as much as 50 percent, they would still horrify. He estimates that between 1811 and 1912, somewhere around 5 1/2 million Muslims were driven out of Europe and million more were killed or died of disease or starvation while fleeing. Cleansing resulted from Serbian and Greek independence in the 1820s and 1830s, from Bulgarian independence in 1877, and from the Balkan wars culminating in 1912."
  34. ^ a b c Bloxham. The Great Game of Genocide, p. 210-211.
  35. ^ Churchill, Ward. A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997, p. 299 ISBN 0-87286-323-9
  36. ^ Drobnicki, John A., and Richard Asaro, "Historical Fabrications on the Internet: Recognition, Evaluation, and Use in Bibliographic Instruction", in Di Su (ed.), Evolution in Reference and Information Services. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press, 2001, ISBN 0-7890-1723-7, p. 136
  37. ^ Totten, Samuel and Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs. Dictionary of Genocide, Volume 2. 2008, p. 273
  38. ^ Encyclopedia of Genocide: A - H., Vol. 1, 2000, p. 163
  39. ^ a b Imber, Colin. "Review of The Ottoman Turks: An Introductory History." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 26, No. 2. November 1999, pp. 307-310.
  40. ^ Encyclopedia of Human Rights, Vol. 1, ed. David P. Forsythe, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 101
  41. ^ Mazower, Mark, The Balkans; A Short History, Modern Library, 2002, p. 159.
  42. ^ Edward Tabor Linenthal (2001) Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum. New York: Viking, 1995.
  43. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. "Confronting the Armenian Genocide" in Pioneers of Genocide Studies. Samuel Totten and Steven L. Jacobs (eds.) New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2002, p. 34.
  44. ^ Lattanzi, Flavia (2018). "The Armenian Massacres as the Murder of a Nation?". The Armenian Massacres of 1915–1916 a Hundred Years Later: Open Questions and Tentative Answers in International Law. Springer International Publishing. pp. 27–104 [78]. ISBN 978-3-319-78169-3.
  45. ^ Pioneers of Genocide Studies, by Samuel Totten, Steven L. Jacobs, Transaction Publishers, 2002, p. 34, ISBN 0-7658-0151-5
  46. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny, Book Review in Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities, ed. by Peter Medding, Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 260, ISBN 0-19-516009-6 "What is most disturbing is how little the non-Armenian public, even in academic circles, knows about it and how a few writers have managed to falsify or trivialize the events of 1915-1916. In fact, the number of deniers is quite small—the most prominent in this account being Sanford Shaw, Justin McCarthy, Heath Lowry, and Bernard Lewis—but their influence is great by virtue of a pernicious alliance with the official campaign of falsification by the government of Turkey. Sadly, scholars of the Genocide have been required to spend much of their intellectual energy on refuting the claims of pseudo-scholarship, while a mere handful have turned to the hard work of explaining what happened in 1915-1916 and why."
  47. ^ Linenthal, Edward Tabor (2001) Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum, p. 312
  48. ^ Two Events Featuring Genocide Denier Canceled In Australia, Asbarez, November 20th, 2013
  49. ^ ECAJ says no to using Parliament to deny genocide, Jewish Online News from Australia and New Zealand
  50. ^ Genocide denier 'should not be silenced', Dan Harrison, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 21, 2013
  51. ^ Australian politicians speak against Genocide denier in Parliament, Press Release, November 21, 2013

Further reading

  • Diamadis, Panayiotis (2017). "Controversies Around Governmental and Parliamentary Recognition of the Armenian, Hellenic, and Assyrian Genocides". Controversies in the Field of Genocide Studies. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-29500-0.

External links