Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Kurds

The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil

The discovery of oil in Turkey’s southeast encouraged state elites to imagine that development would lead to the assimilation of Kurds into Turkish culture and language. Instead, oil infrastructures and the resulting social changes had very different consequences. Zeynep Oguz explains the historical dynamics of the quest for oil and how it nurtured Kurdish dissent and critique of the state.

The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil

Zeynep Oguz 10.13.2020

The discovery of oil in Turkey’s southeast encouraged state elites to imagine that development would lead to the assimilation of Kurds into Turkish culture and language. Instead, oil infrastructures and the resulting social changes had very different consequences. Zeynep Oguz explains the historical dynamics of the quest for oil and how it nurtured Kurdish dissent and critique of the state. Forthcoming in MER issue 296 “Nature and Politics.”

Big Village Interactive Documentary Tells Small Stories of a Rebel Kurdish Village

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iranian Kurds fighting for autonomy moved to the village Gewredê in Iraq. The online, interactive documentary Big Village reconstructs life in Gewredê in the mid-1980s, as remembered by the residents. The viewer can click on interviews, pictures, videos and texts, which makes Big Village an excellent teaching tool for studying Kurdish history and the Iranian revolution. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Securitizing Citizenship and Politicizing Security in Iraqi Kurdistan

It was 8 am on a scorching hot summer day. I was sitting inside a public notary office in a Kurdish border town, two kilometers away from the no-fly zone declared by the US-led coalition in 1991, and which separated the Kurdish autonomous zone from the rest of Iraq....

The Gains and Risks of Kurdish Civic Activism in Iran

On July 13, 2020, two young Kurdish men, Diako Rasoulzadeh and Saber Sheikh-Abdollah, were executed by the Iranian government on fabricated charges of involvement in bombing a military parade in Mahabad in 2010. They were also members of Komala, a banned Kurdish...

The New Wave of Politics in the Struggle for Self-Determination in Rojhelat

In an attempt to decolonize Kurdistan, at least discursively, Kurds refer to the Kurdish region of Iran as Rojhelat, instead of Iranian Kurdistan. Rojhelat, meaning “the place where the sun rises,” refers to the eastern portion of Kurdistan—the Kurdish homeland that...

The Kurdish Movement’s Disparate Goals and the Collapse of the Peace Process with Turkey

The Kurdish movement in Turkey has three stated objectives: to achieve a resolution of the Kurdish issue, to democratize Turkey and to establish a decentralized political system formulated as Democratic Confederalism by Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the...

Where Will You Find That Many Women?

Aysel Tuğluk is a Kurdish politician, a founding member and the first co-chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in Turkey. She was elected as a member of parliament in 2007 and banned from politics for five years when the Constitutional Court outlawed the DTP in...

The Kurdish Movement’s Relationship with the Palestinian Struggle

The Palestinian and Kurdish struggles for self-determination share several common features. Both are stateless movements fighting against colonial, apartheid regimes in the Middle East and both have tortured histories of oppression and resistance. Despite the...

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defending it were established by Kurdish political and military forces. But the SDF also attracts recruits from all over Syria. Why do Arabs from areas both inside and outside SDF control join this military force? Drawing on her field research, Amy Austin Holmes presents the stories of six Arab men and women that shed light on their motivations and the circumstances surrounding their choices. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Kurdish Freedom Movement, Rojava and the Left

Efforts by the Kurds to put revolutionary ideals into practice in Rojava captured the imagination of anarchists and leftists in Europe and North America. Thomas Jeffrey Miley explains the left’s fascination with Rojava, the ties of solidarity that connect the Kurdish freedom movement to Europe, Öcalan’s embrace of a new paradigm of struggle and the dilemmas facing Rojava now. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Liminal Lineages of the “Kurdish Question”

Kurdistan is a liminal space. It has been at the geopolitical interface of both old empires and modern states. The historical dynamics of this geopolitical liminality have been and remain the primary determinant of Kurdish politics and history. Prior to the modern...

Tracing the Conceptual Genealogy of Kurdistan as International Colony

İsmail Beşikci is the first social scientist in modern Turkey to analyze the oppression of Kurds, distributed across four nation states, through the concept of the “international colony.” In recent years, Beşikci has been celebrated among his peers and a younger...

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Kurdistan, One and Many

A lot of water has flown under a number of bridges since MERIP’s last issue on Kurdish politics in 2008. The emergence and subsequent crushing of Arab uprisings, the beginning and abrupt end of the Kurdish peace process with the entrenchment of authoritarianism in...

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Adnan Çelik 08.4.2020

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Big Village Interactive Documentary Tells Small Stories of a Rebel Kurdish Village

Peyman Jafari 08.4.2020

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iranian Kurds fighting for autonomy moved to the village Gewredê in Iraq. The online, interactive documentary Big Village reconstructs life in Gewredê in the mid-1980s, as remembered by the residents. The viewer can click on interviews, pictures, videos and texts, which makes Big Village an excellent teaching tool for studying Kurdish history and the Iranian revolution. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) defending it were established by Kurdish political and military forces. But the SDF also attracts recruits from all over Syria. Why do Arabs from areas both inside and outside SDF control join this military force? Drawing on her field research, Amy Austin Holmes presents the stories of six Arab men and women that shed light on their motivations and the circumstances surrounding their choices. Forthcoming in MER issue 295 “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Kurdish Freedom Movement, Rojava and the Left

Efforts by the Kurds to put revolutionary ideals into practice in Rojava captured the imagination of anarchists and leftists in Europe and North America. Thomas Jeffrey Miley explains the left’s fascination with Rojava, the ties of solidarity that connect the Kurdish freedom movement to Europe, Öcalan’s embrace of a new paradigm of struggle and the dilemmas facing Rojava now. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

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