For the last fifteen years the Workshop on Armenian Turkish Scholarship (WATS) has been the main forum where Turkish, Armenian and other historians conduct an informed debate about the destruction of the Ottoman Armenian community in 1915-16. Originally an initiative of American scholars of Turkish and Armenian extraction based at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the group has so far met seven times for biannual workshops, held alternately in the United States and in Europe.
The group of scholars involved has grown over the years, but the main characteristics of WATS have remained the same: it is based on presentations of evidence-based empirical research and avoids and rejects a historiography that takes ideological (primarily nationalist) frames as point of departure. The results of the first five WATS meetings were published as A Question of Genocide. Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (edited by Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Muge Göçek and Norman M. Naimark) at Oxford University Press in 2011.
WATS VIII workshop
The eighth WATS workshop, co-hosted by NIOD and the IISH in Amsterdam in October 2011 broadens the theme beyond the fate of the Ottoman Armenians and looks at the whole landscape of ethnic tension and violence at the end of empire, of which the Armenian genocide was a part. Attention will be devoted to Greeks, Jews, Kurds and Arabs as well as to Turks and Armenians with a view to gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of the dissolution of the multi-ethnic Ottoman society during the decade of war (1912-1922) that marked the end of empire.