Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Accommodating "Real Existing" Kurdish Nationalism

I have recently published an article in this January's issue of the Journal of Democracy on Kurds in Turkey. The article argues that while progress has been made in recent years to recognize Kurdish ethnicity as a reality and advance cultural rights and economic development, the Turkish state has yet to come to terms with the national dimension of the problem. The article also includes a critical discussion of the positions taken by Kurdish nationalists and the government, as well as the role liberalism will play in any resolution of the conflict if it is to be settled within current boundaries.

Unfortunately one needs a subscription to Project MUSE in order to access the article, but here is the abstract.
Turkish state policy toward the Kurds, the Republic of Turkey's largest ethnic minority, has evolved from denial and mandatory assimilation to cultural recognition to acknowledgement of the Kurds' contested status as a political problem demanding political solutions. The election of 36 Kurdish-nationalist lawmakers, most of whom now sit in parliament as representatives of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), bolsters the salience of Kurdish nationalism and the need to accommodate it through normal politics rather than attempt to suppress it through violence. How state authorities and politicians handle the Kurdish question will continue to say much about both the success of Turkey's efforts at democratic consolidation and, more generally, the potential for democracy to manage problems involving self-conscious and mobilized national minorities dwelling within the borders of strong and highly centralized nation-states.
Many thanks to Umit Firat whose insights helped inform this article, and whose work to find solutions to transform the conflict I greatly admire. And many thanks to executive editor Phil Costopolous for his incisive editing and to managing editor Brent Kallmer for providing the abstract.

I would also like to point your attention to the three other articles in the larger cluster of articles of which mine is but a part, including Meltem Muftuler-Bac and E. Fuat Keyman's overview of AKP rule in an era of "dominant party politics," Ersel Aydinli's commentary on the current state of civil-military relations, and Berna Turam's incisive essay on civil liberties in an era in which religious and secular Turks are learning to live together. The overarching theme of Turam's article and my own is the need to settle democracy and difference, a topic I touch upon often in this blog and elsewhere.

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