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“The Nation and its Fragments” Moderating & Resisting State- sponsored Nation-Building in Turkey A Kurdish man in southeast Turkey, 2004. Photo: N.F. Watts.

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Presentation on theme: "“The Nation and its Fragments” Moderating & Resisting State- sponsored Nation-Building in Turkey A Kurdish man in southeast Turkey, 2004. Photo: N.F. Watts."— Presentation transcript:

1 “The Nation and its Fragments” Moderating & Resisting State- sponsored Nation-Building in Turkey A Kurdish man in southeast Turkey, Photo: N.F. Watts “Türkiye’de 71½ millet var/In Turkey there are 71½ nations.” -Turkish proverb

2 The New Turkish Nation (in sum): what were its key characteristics?  Modern  Western  National (Turks=nation)  Secular  Scientific, rational Turkish businessmen walk across the street and past the subway station in Levent, one of Istanbul's most famous living and financial areas. EPA PHOTO / KERIM OKTEN

3 The New Turkish nation: Who & what didn’t belong?  “Traditionals” –Customary ways of life  Religious figures  Islam  Kurds, Arabs  Christians, Jews  Folk lore/superstition

4 Kurdish leader Seit Riza, 1930 Fragments of the nation: Those who didn’t belong

5 State-sponsored nationalism: Who resisted, and how?  Many Kurds, especially in the southeast –Rebellions (1925, , ) –Ballot box, political activism (1960s onward)  Muslim leaders  Many ordinary people –Challenging edict through practice and time  call to prayer in Arabic –Through the ballot box  Consistent support for more populist, less reformist parties  Continued pressure for popular participation, respect for the popular will Former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, elected in Turkey’s first multi-party elections in 1950, and later executed.

6 Some details on the Kurdish “response”

7 Response: Kurdish peripheral nationalism  Early uprisings  Rise of a new counter-elite and the re-creation of Kurdish identity, 1960s  PKK guerrilla activism,

8 Modes of Conflict  Guerrilla war –Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)  Conventional politics –Pro-Kurdish political parties  Civil contention and protest –Kurdish newspapers, cultural organizations –Human rights organizations

9 Kurds I can't talk because I don't know my language I'd like to tell you about my self but I don't know my history I have no education because there are no schools I don't have a brother, he was a politician, he got killed No I'm sorry, no friends either, they are all in prison I don't have a village because it's burned down I don't have a house because tanks destroyed it I couldn't stay in my land because mines cover it I have no sister, she was a journalist, she just disappeared No I'm sorry, no relatives either, they fled from the war I don't know any songs, they are banned I can't dance, it's forbidden I can't tell you any stories because no one ever told me any I don't have parents, they were hanged No, I'm sorry, no country either, it has been stolen S.W.Z S.W.Z

10 Boys at a Kurdish New Year celebration in the early 1990s. Photo: Kevin McKiernan. PKK guerrillas, early 1990s.

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12 Who is involved?  Turkish Armed Forces  Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)  Pro-Kurdish politicians in various political parties  Liberal Turkish media and civil society organizations  Kurdish diaspora community and other transnational actors  Ordinary people

13 Effects of the conflict  35,000 dead  New attention to status of Kurds in Turkey on domestic and international agenda  Some political gains  Human rights abuses Pro-Kurdish newspapers such as this one are often closed down for expressing support for PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

14 Current status: stalemate?  1999 capture of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan; PKK guerrillas lay down arms  Reformation of PKK?  Emergency law lifted in the southeastern provinces  2002 “Mini- democratization”  PKK guerrillas in northern Iraqi mountains PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured by Turkish special forces in Kenya in Feb and flown, drugged and tied up, back to Turkey for trial.


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