Catastrophic in scale, the recent outbreak of climate-related wildfires across Turkey was followed immediately by a flurry of Turkish social media disinformation targeting the Kurdish political movement organized around the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—and by implication “all Kurds”—as the alleged orchestrators of these fires. As a result, a rural Kurdish family was lynched, and seasonal Kurdish agricultural laborers in a city on the Mediterranean region were threatened with lynching. While such violence almost certainly foreshadows future ecocide and violence fueled by climate change, disinformation, and racial profiling, its framing within “climate change talk” most often obscures the subterranean structures of denialism that drive climate thinking. Indeed, climate thinking’s emphasis on urgency and policy-oriented politics introduces “dangerous commensurations” that equate through the language of “technical solutions” climate-related devastation with multiaxial forms and facts of colonial assault under occupation. When refracted through the universalist lens of climate change, world-political scenarios of climate-induced disasters and humanitarian crises steal the show, pushing ongoing decolonial struggles over territorial sovereignty and restorative justice for genocide to the margins.
In an attempt to slow this marginalization down, I take a moment here to register the nonhuman flora and fauna indigenous to the banks of the Tigris River in Upper Mesopotamia—in particular, centenarian mulberry trees—as resistant roots that register the Armenian Genocide’s “evidentiary ecologies” in and through the Turkish state’s denialist present and its ongoing war against the Kurds. These resistant centenarian roots direct our attention to human and nonhuman lives that are both occupied and constituted by sedimented layers of mass violence, colonial ecocide, and genocidal aftermaths under denialism. They register human and nonhuman lives that are routinely illegalized, rendered undocumentable and unaccountable, and displaced by settler states and their imperialist allies. Lives brimming with a dark affective dramaturgy exemplifying ecological protraction and decolonial praxis amidst genocidal ruins, war rubble, and the broader context of climate change.
Azad, a Kurdish anti-extraction activist, tells me that, given the predominance of systemic “industrial habits,” farmers across the Hewsel Gardens live an ideologically “ecological life” without necessarily living according to an “ecological conscience.” Here, among these 8,000-year-old urban agricultural fields long referred to as the “lungs” (Kurmanji: lêdanê; Turkish: akciğer) that “breathe” (Turkish: nefes almak) life into the informal capital of southeastern Turkey’s Kurdistan, most farmers depend on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to cultivate corn and maize, the monocrops promoted by Kurdish landlords and the Turkish state. The Gardens, which have one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the Middle East, are home to rare bird, butterfly, and reptilian species and endemic plants. Considered by scholars to have been an inspiration for the Garden of Eden depicted in the Annals of the Kings of Assyria, the plots were added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in 2015 together with the ancient district of Sur, located in the buffer zone just inside the Diyarbakır Fortress walls.
Figure 1. Hewsel Gardens in Diyarbakır. Photo by author.
Azad cultivates a plot of land across from Hewsel near the Tigris River with a group of academics expelled during the purge of 2016 in Turkey and a Syrian refugee family. Together, they work to create a seed bank of pest-resistant plants native to Kurdistan. Azad stresses the difficulties of putting decolonial ecological principles into practice under the state’s brutal blockade where “war is the climate,” as people put it. Before the Siege of 2015–2016, hundreds of eco-projects were realized with non-hybrid seeds and pesticide-free farming by eco-activists and Yazidi refugee women who in 2014 fled the Yazidi Genocide in their ancestral homeland of Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan and settled in the refugee camp of Diyarbakır. Since the occupation of Sur and its surrounding areas, they are all largely ruined. All signs of previous communal work and cultivation have been erased. Nothing remotely resembling a site of cultivation appears before the passer-by. Plants have been uprooted and are gone for good. Plots have become subdivisions of a wasteland.
Occupied ecologies are as much about destruction as they are about construction. Returning to the city for fieldwork after the siege in 2018, and again in 2019, I discovered that the city walls and the Gardens had been separated by a military wall, erected to close off areas destroyed by bombardment. In 2015, the Turkish government had expedited an “emergency appropriation” of 60 percent of Sur properties. TOKI, the Turkish housing development agency, drew up reconstruction plans for the parkification of the Hewsel eco-system and the construction of thousands of new homes in the area adjacent to the Gardens—homes that the Sur district’s newly displaced residents could never afford. The number of new houses lining the edges of the Gardens and its adjacent sandpits increased, putting pressure on the farmers who worked the Garden’s fields. “Now the land is polluted,” a farmer lamented, pointing out illegal sand extraction sites and industrial wastewater pipes used by farmers for irrigation. Charred trunks of uprooted centennial mulberry trees felled by chemical weaponry during the Siege lay on the edges of the Gardens.
Figure 2. Reconstruction of Sur following the siege, Diyarbakır. Photo by author.
The removal of underground materials, the damming of rivers, the replacement of traditional crops with profit-yielding industrial commodities such as maize and cotton, the uprooting of ecological life, the decline of rare indigenous weasel and water turtle populations, and the ruined and resurgent ecologies these destructive processes have generated in and through war would be impossible without the wielding of specific forms of political violence upon the land to make it “available” for colonial development. In the Kurdish region, colonial “technopolitical frontiers” were created to tame and harness the wild of these insurgent Kurdish geographies with high-penetration interventions such as dams, mining, urban regeneration, and military technologies. Coproducing infrastructure and ecology as possessions of the nation-state and as commodifiable resources meant the proliferation of these projects all over Kurdistan, to be constructed and managed by private companies. This layered pattern of environmental racism that takes shape through war invites an approach that considers environmental degradation “outside the limits of climate change,” an approach that is mindful of decolonial paradigms and resurgent nonhuman relations that work to counter genocidal extraction.
In 2005, the decolonial paradigm of self-governance became the Kurdish movement’s ecological model. Inspired by the ideas of American social ecologist Murray Bookchin on democratic confederalism and the Zapatista experience of autonomous municipalities in Chiapas, Mexico, the Kurdish political movement called for Kurds to self-govern through a decolonial network of assemblies and councils organized along the principles of direct democracy, women’s liberation, ecological production, and cooperative economy. This “greening” of the larger Kurdish movement, organized in Turkish Kurdistan as ecology councils (Kurmanji: meclîsa ekolojî) under the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement spawned several campaigns: one against the militarization of the region via a new type of high-security police station, the kalekol; one against the extraction of shale gas by fracking; and one against the Tigris Valley Project development of the area directly across the Tigris River from the Hewsel Gardens.
The turn of the Kurdish movement away from the anticolonial strategies and visions toward decolonization entailed a reliance on subsistence farming using seeds native to Kurdistan, implemented in municipality-funded and autonomous small plots. But by autumn 2016, the pro-Kurdish municipalities had been placed under Turkish trusteeship (Turkish: kayyum), and their democratically elected Kurdish mayors had been dismissed. The state then put an end to these activities, and, in an ironic twist, co-opted the city’s age-old idiom of “breath” as a way to greenwash the destructive effects of its campaign for “mobilizing saplings” (Turkish: fidan seferberliği) so as to “cultivate in children a love of trees and nature for a safe future.” The government’s “Breath for the Future” (Turkish: Geleceğe Nefes) campaign involved the planting of eleven million oxygen-giving saplings across Turkey to fight climate degradation. Supported by the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office, the Diyarbakır Police Department, and the Turkish Office of Religious Affairs—all branches of government involved in the occupation of the old Christian neighborhood of Sur and the Gardens—the project was championed by the Turkish government as “an exemplary mobilization” (Turkish: örnek seferberlik). This extension of the military term “mobilization,” which refers to the act of assembling and readying troops and supplies for war, to the ecological realm and to the notion of breath illustrates a colonial greenwashing that seeks to refract the problem of colonial destruction through a distorting lens of climate change. A few months after the campaign, a report by the Agriculture Labor Union indicated that more than 90 percent of the saplings had died, having been planted in the wrong season by an “army of nonprofessional sowers.”
If a popular concern among UNESCO World Heritage experts and decolonial Kurdish eco-initiatives was the immediate restoration of war-damaged heritage and the revival of old ecological traditions against what I call a “colonial greenwashing” and extractivist interventions, the villages lining the Tigris, such as Qeterbel, stood, together with their gardens and trees, in the imaginary of Diyarbakırite Armenians (Dikranagerdtzi Hayer) in stark contrast to such a planetary and restorative approach to heritage. Although Ottoman and Turkish state archives and the secondary sources that rely on them demonstrate the importance of endemic mulberry and silkworm cultivation to Ottoman Diyarbakır, it is not possible to definitively connect the causal dots between the annihilation of the Christian silk masters and the confiscation of their silk factories and the subsequent loss of expertise in silk processing and weaving in Diyarbakır, the demise of the regional silk industry, and the rapid decline in the city’s mulberry tree and orchard numbers. Christian existence in these areas has all but vanished. The absence of a formal archive that could chronologically document Christian ownership of the orchards on the shores of the Tigris was unsurprising: the archives of the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress, which orchestrated the genocide, were destroyed soon after 1915, and the archives of the succeeding Turkish state, which officially denies the genocide, “have very little to say, if anything at all” on the matter.
When I began searching for traces of mulberry trees and of the village of Qeterbel in accounts that challenge the official Turkish historiography’s vanishing effect, I had to unlearn in order to relearn, through layers of time and space. In the near complete absence of local Armenian or Syriac testimonies about the anti-Christian pogroms of 1895, Joost Jongerden and Jelle Verheij read the reports of foreign missionaries, the Ottoman archives, and the consonant secondary sources and Turkish nationalist memoirs against the grain in an attempt to reconstruct the void that mass violence against Armenians and Syriacs opened in Ottoman Diyarbakır’s demographic and socioeconomic life. In their respective accounts, the village of Qeterbel emerges in 1895 as the scene of pogroms against Armenians and Syriacs in which their properties were confiscated and transferred to Muslim collaborators of the Committee of Union and Progress regime, which had ordered the pillaging and burning of the village. Umit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel further confirm that the villages of Qeterbel and Qarabash became targets in a new wave of mass arrests and violence around the time of the 1915 genocide. The silk and pushi headscarf industries operated primarily by Armenians and Syriacs became extinct after the 1915 annihilation of the Diyarbakırite Christians, with their assets, including mulberry orchards, sold at auction to settlers who began migrating from the Caucasus and the Balkans. Not only were these refugee-settlers resettled there soon after the genocide; they were also given the annihilated Christians’ seeds, animals, plows, vineyards, orchards, and gardens. During the 1920s, the ruined village of Qeterbel became a model site of Republican developmentalist zeal as the government sought to revitalize “5,000 acres of barren land” by sending in experts ranging from veterinarians to health inspectors to examine and monitor the land and its inhabitants, building a ranch with technical equipment from Europe, and distributing free saplings, chicken, and seeds as well as pesticides. The erasure of the village from the toponymical map was completed in the 1930s when its name became Turkified as Eğlence. Later, the area in the vicinity of Qeterbel became a site for Kurdish paramilitary village guard resettlement, layering in additional ethnoreligious elision and claims to land.
If another attempt to document former Armenian ownership of village land here was to conduct archival research in local journals published in Armenian with the assistance of a research collaborator, visiting the approximate site of Qeterbel was my attempt to come closer to an understanding of the traces left by the genocidal continuum on the landscape. On my first visit to the village in 2019, I arrive at an untended and untamed landscape dotted with feral centenarian mulberry trees. My guide, a Kurdish professor specializing in endemic species and native seeds who runs an ecological project by the Tigris River together with Azad, and a few academics-turned-farmers who were summarily dismissed from their university jobs in the academic purge of 2016, is reluctant to take me to the site, as he thinks “there’s nothing there.”
Figure 3. Qeterbel, Diyarbakır. Photo by author.
Although the site now belongs to Dicle University, it has long been “abandoned.” In a moment of profound self-reflection, Serhat, whose Armenian family had to convert to Islam shortly after the genocide, wants to see the site even if “there is nothing there.” Serhat is interested in retracing his genealogical roots, uncovering the circumstances surrounding his family’s conversion, and thus reconstructing his personal history. We wander for a long time through feral plots in a fragile attempt akin to premonition that it is there—somewhere, around the corner, after the next turnout, behind the next hill, perhaps. After becoming disoriented several times in this area due to the absence of site-specific directions, and with the assistance of a map drawn for me by an elderly Kurdish interlocutor, some digital maps, and directions we request from passersby along the way, we finally arrive at a feral spot overlooking the riverbank and the distant face of the ancient city wall of Diyarbakır.
The professor, now visibly excited, studies the abandoned feral landscape and is impressed by the sight of centenarian mulberry trees. He goes on feeding us information. “In fact,” he begins to recount, “these trees take about five to ten years to begin bearing fruit... The mulberry fruit is a collection of many tiny fruits joined together, itself the result of a process of inflorescence… These trees prefer drained soil, but they are tolerant of drought and frost, too… They make great shade, which is essential for the summer heat…”
While listening to him, I see the stone wall ruins of an old, derelict building, a few centenarian mulberry trees scattered throughout the grass, and a vast array of younger, feral mulberry trees—all an indication of the orchards that once covered the area around the village. The stone building foundations peeked out from among the stand of mulberries that had at first appeared featureless to the professor, only later to become intriguing enough ecological habitats to inspire him to share raw biological facts. The indigenous seeds native to Kurdistan that the professor was pursuing with his farmer friends may be of Armenian and Syriac provenance. Whether they strictly evidence past Armenian and Syriac habitation or not, these centenarians materialize ecological roots as a genocidal affect that exposes sedimented sites of mass violence in the midst of ongoing colonial destruction and siege. Mulberry affects. We feel an uneasy silence weigh heavy on our shoulders as the sight of the centenarians prompts us to consider the possibility that we have trespassed on an unrecognized massacre site.
On our way back, I meditate on Marc Nichanian’s observation that in a realm of denialism, facts are doomed to be inoperative, and documentation is an inadequate intellectual and political disposition. I take refuge in the power of imagination to consider these centenarian mulberry trees and their feral companions to be “testimonies as monument.” They “escape” the gaze of the official archive as roots that continue to feed on more than a hundred years of destruction. Held hostage under a suspended negation, but still readying themselves for an archive that is still “to come in the anterior future,” the trees challenge the logocentric scaffolding of settler archives that reduce ecology to background effect.
Figure 4 Qeterbel, Diyarbakır. Photo by author.
“To live in the habitus of denial is akin to perpetually setting the cycle of death alight,” writes Aylin Vartanyan Dilaver. “Imagine a tree that feeds on the tar of fear, flowing from its roots to its trunk and to the fire of anger. The tar feeds the fire. The fire makes the trunk glow. In time, the tree sprouts leaves of fire and bears fruits of tar. This poison from the roots keeps the tree erect, but it does not keep the tree alive [translation mine].”
Just before the genocide, I relearn, mulberry trees grew both inside and outside Diyarbakır’s city center: in the back yards of urban houses and in the Hewsel Gardens. As with the living-dead tree that Vartanyan Dilaver imagines, emblematic of an impossible mourning in what has now become a Kurdish city considered the capital of Greater Kurdistan, the mulberry’s layered meanings prompt the imagination to recast the contested and violently traversed claims of nativity to the land and the right to repatriation. In a recent piece, Lerna Ekmekcioglu proposes an alternative utopian vision of restorative justice that mobilizes the imagination as a way of restoring Armenian presence and visibility to the land. This, she suggests, could pave the way for a transition from the denialist Turkish present to a “utopian era”of Armenian resurgence and self-possession. For Ekmekcioglu, in this imaginative utopian era, concrete naming practices, educational interventions, and commemorative efforts that go beyond a metaphorical de-linking from Turkish “institutional, intellectual, and political barriers to acknowledgment” can restore Armenian nativity to the land.
As a nonindigenous (minority) scholar from Turkey who is aware of settlers’ “moves to innocence” that serve to assuage settler guilt in repatriation processes without working to redress the harm done to indigenous ways and forms of life, I follow Ekmekcioglu’s lead by envisioning “resistant rooting” as an imaginative approach that contributes to utopian restorative projects centered on the repatriation of land and life. I wonder whether centenarian mulberry trees that grow along the shores of the Tigris and in the violently traversed city of Dikranagerd, the Armenian name for Diyarbakır, can better be “noticed” as the resistant roots of a crime scene held hostage and suspended in time by a denialist state still settling into the present.
My intention here is not to conjure up a romanticized nostalgia that lingers on ruination. Rather, it is to consider the reclamation of ancestral roots in ecological sites as a form of Armenian reparative justice on the part of all living things, human and nonhuman. Resistant roots is a statement about the possibility of a campaign for restorative justice, decolonial claim to land, and climate activism that acknowledges the fact that Kurdish decolonial ecological struggles in Diyarbakır are rooted in sedimented layers of violence, incommensurable in kind yet sharing a common space and stretching back in time from the ongoing colonial dispossession of the Kurds by the Turkish state, through the larger context of climate change, to toponymic erasure, Armenian genocide, and anti-Christian pogroms.
In underscoring these layers of violence, my intention is not to flatten out the complex layering of claims over what constitutes “settling” and “indigeneity” in Diyarbakır. Nuance in the question of commensurability over claims to land is particularly important given that some of the Muslims of various backgrounds and ethnicities who participated in the genocide were also native to the land. Historians and historical anthropologists have been attending to such complex, contested, and violently traversed layering. The methodological approach I propose here is purposively humble in its emphasis on a politics of incommensurable resurgence rather than an exhaustive chronicling of historical claims. If bifurcated approaches to settler colonialism that neatly and statically partition the world into settlers and natives are mistaken, so too is a naïve equivalence between Kurdish and Armenian understandings of settler colonialism and emergent decolonial visions and paradigms. The advantage of centering nonhuman life conceptually within resurgent imagination and politics is that it forces us to reckon with the genocidal constitution, colonial management, and social and ecological reproduction of these bifurcations. A methodological focus on mulberry affects and resistant roots brings the violently traversed dead ends and incommensurable and convergent possibilities of such binaries to the fore. The centenarians convey the sense of lives that have been destroyed, torn apart, confiscated, collective, intimate, ongoing, and ecologically resistant. As a kind of restorative justice, the resistant roots of centenarian mulberries carve out a resurgent space in which contemporary Kurdish climate politics can resurface, pushing back against the longue durée of Turkish state denialism.
 Anıl Olcan and Zozan Pehlivan, “Wildfires in Mount Cudi and the Ecological, Ideological, Political, and Historical Dimensions of Forest Fires: Turkey’s Destruction of the Kurdish Environment,” Jadaliyya, September 30, 2020; Cihan Tugal, “One World, in Flames, From California to Turkey,” Jadaliyya, September 10, 2021,.
 Kristina Lyons, “Decomposition as Life Politics: Soils, Selva, and Small Farmers under the Gun of the U.S.-Colombian War on Drugs,” Cultural Anthropology 31, no. 1 (2016): 56–81; see also Kali Rubaii, “Birth Defects and the Toxic Legacy of War in Iraq,” MERIP, September 22, 2020.
 Antoine Pérez, “Aššurnaṣirpal II, l’Éden et Les Jardins de l’Hevsel,” in L’Hevsel à Amida-Diyarbakır: Études et Réhabilitation de Jardins Mésopotamiens, ed. Martine Assénat, Patrimoines Au Présent (İstanbul: Institut français d’études anatoliennes, 2015).
 Dale Stahl, “A Technopolitical Frontier: The Keban Dam Project and Southeastern Anatolia,” in Transforming Socio-Natures in Turkey: Landscapes, State and Environmental Movements, ed. Onur İnal and Ethemcan Turhan (London: Routledge, 2020), 31–51.
 Hande Özkan, “Remembering Zingal: State, Citizens, and Forests in Turkey,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 3 (August 2018): 493–511.
 Salih Can Açıksöz, Sacrificial Limbs: Masculinity, Disability and Political Violence in Turkey, by Salih Can Açıksöz (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020); Fırat Genç, “Governing the Contested City: Geographies of Displacement in Diyarbakır, Turkey,” Antipode 53, no. 6 (2021): 1682–1703; Nilay Özok-Gündoğan, “‘Social Development’ as a Governmental Strategy in the Southeastern Anatolia Project,” New Perspectives on Turkey 32 (ed 2005): 93–111; Ayşe Seda Yüksel, “Rescaled Localities and Redefined Class Relations: Neoliberal Experience in South-East Turkey,” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 13, no. 4 (2011): 433–55 .
 Caterina Scaramelli, “The Delta Is Dead: Moral Ecologies of Infrastructure in Turkey,” Cultural Anthropology34, no. 3 (August 24, 2019): 388–416.
 Ekin Kurtic, “Sediment in Reservoirs: A History of Dams and Forestry in Turkey,” in Transforming Socio-Natures in Turkey: Landscapes, State and Environmental Movements, ed. Onur İnal and Ethemcan Turhan (London: Routledge, 2019), 90–111,
 Françoise Vergès, “Racial Capitalocene: Is the Anthropocene Racial?,” in Futures of Black Radicalism, ed. Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin (London: Verso, 2017), 74.
 See Stephen E. Hunt, ed., Ecological Solidarity and the Kurdish Freedom Movement: Thought, Practice, Challenges, and Opportunities (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2021).
 Milliyet, “Guinness yetkilisinden en çok ağaç dikme rekoruna onay!,” Milliyet, November 12, 2019.
 Talin Suciyan, The Armenians in Modern Turkey: Post-Genocide Society, Politics and History (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016), 1.
 Joost Jongerden and Jelle Verheij, Social Relations in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1870-1915 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).
 Jongerden and Verheij, Social Relations in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1870-1915, 73–74, 334.
 Ugur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel, Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), 68.
 Üngör and Polatel, Confiscation and Destruction, 44.
 Ugur Ümit Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 146.
 Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey, 244.
 Umut Yıldırım, “Space, Loss and Resistance: A Haunted Pool-Map in South-Eastern Turkey,” Anthropological Theory, 2019; Umut Yıldırım, “Breathing under Blockade: Ruined and Decolonial Ecologies in a Middle Eastern Heritage Site,” Current Anthropology, forthcoming; Umut Yıldırım, “Mulberry Affects: Ecology, Memory and Aesthetics on the Shores of Tigris River in the Wake of Genocide,” in Brown Ecologies, An-Archic Fragments: Thinking through War-Torn Worlds in the Middle East (Berlin: ICI Press Berlin, forthcoming).
 Marc Nichanian, The Historiographic Perversion, trans. Gil Anidjar (Columbia University Press, 2009).
 Nichanian, The Historiographic Perversion, 83.
 Nichanian, The Historiographic Perversion, 103.
 Nichanian, The Historiographic Perversion, 114.
 Aylin Vartanyan Dilaver, “From Longing to Belong to Shaping the Longing: Dwelling with Armenian Women in Istanbul” (PhD dissertation, European Graduate School, forthcoming).
 Vartanyan Dilaver, “From Longing to Belong to Shaping the Longing.”
 Ahmet Taşğin and Marcello Mollica, “Disappearing Old Christian Professions in the Middle East: The Case of Diyarbakır Pushee-Makers,” Middle Eastern Studies 51, no. 6 (November 2, 2015): 922–31.
 Lerna Ekmekci̇oglu, “Of Dark Pasts and Pipe Dreams: The Turkish University,” YILLIK: Annual of Istanbul Studies 3 (December 30, 2021): 185–93.
 Lerna Ekmekci̇oglu, “Of Dark Pasts and Pipe Dreams,” 188.
 Lerna Ekmekci̇oglu, “Of Dark Pasts and Pipe Dreams,” 193.
 There is controversy over where Dikranagerd was historically located, but Dikranagerd is nevertheless the toponomy embraced by Armenians in recalling the city.
 Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015).