The Kurdish Question Revisited

Edited by
July 2017 9781849045919 712pp
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The Kurds, once marginal in the study of the Middle East and secondary in its international relations, have moved to centre stage in recent years. In Turkey, where the Kurdish question is an issue of national significance, and in Iraq, where the gains made by the Kurdistan Regional Government have allowed it to impose its authority, moves are afoot to solve ‘the Kurdish Question’ once and for all. In Syria, where the Kurds have borne the brunt of the Islamic State’s onslaught as they defended their three self-declared cantons of Afrin, Kobane, and Cezire, and in Iran, where they struggle to express their cultural distinctiveness and suffer disproportionately at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s security and intelligence services, the picture is less positive. Yet the situations in both countries remain in flux, affected by developments in Iraq and Turkey in a manner that suggests we may have to revise the notion of the Kurds being forever divided by the boundaries of the Middle East and subsumed into the state projects of other nations.

The contributors to The Kurdish Question Revisited offer insights into how this once seemingly intractable, immutable phenomenon is being transformed amid the new political realities of the Middle East.

Table of contents

Introduction – Gareth Stansfield (University of Exeter) and Mohammed Shareef (University of Exeter)


1. New Perspectives on Writing the History of the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Turkey: A History and State of the Art Assessment – Jordi Tejel (Graduate Institute of Geneva)
2. Social Movement Theory and Political Mobilization in Kurdistan – David Romano (Missouri State University)
3. Religion Among the Kurds: Between Naqshbandi Sufism and IS Salafism – Michiel Leezenberg (University of Amsterdam)
4. Politics of Memory: Kurdish Ethnic Identity and the Role of Collective Forgetting – Hakan Özoğlu (University of Central Florida)
5. “Being in Time”: The Kurdish Movement and Quests of Universal – Hamit Bozarslan (EHESS Paris)
6. Separated but Connected: The Synergic Effects in the Kurdistan Sub-System – Ofra Bengio (Tel Aviv University)
7. Fact and Fiction in Modern Kurdish Narrative Discourse – Hashem Ahmadzadeh (University of Stockholm)
8. Political and Everyday Religion in Kurdistan – Diane E. King (University of Kentucky)
9. The Shifting Borders of Conflict, Difference, and Oppression: Kurdish Folklore Revisited – Christine Allison (University of Exeter)
10. Kurdish Music in Armenia: The Music of the Yezidis – Nahro Zagros (University of Soran)


11. The Sheikh Ubeidullah Rebellion of 1880 – Sabri Ates (Southern Methodist University)
12. Journalism Beyond Borders: The Bedirkhans and the First Kurdish Gazette, 1898–1902 – Janet Klein (University of Akron)
13. Mobilisation of Kurds in Turkey during the 1980s and the 1990s – Cengiz Gunes (The Open University)
14. Turkey’s Kurdish Problems, The Kurds’ Turkish Problems – Bill Park (King’s College London)
15. The Transformation of Turkey’s Kurdish Question – Henri Barkey (The Wilson Center)
16. Contrasting Turkish Paradigms Towards the Volatile Kurdish Question: Domestic and Foreign Considerations – Michael M. Gunter (Tennessee Technological University)
17. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK): Radical Democracy and the Right to Self-Determination Beyond the Nation-State – Joost Jongerden (Wageningen University)
18. The PKK, the Kurdish Movement, and the Emergence of Kurdish Cultural Policies in Turkey – Clémence Scalbert-Yücel (University of Exeter)


19. The Curious Question of the PYD-PKK Relationship – Zeynep Kaya (LSE) and Robert Lowe (LSE)
20. Kurdish Political Parties and the Syrian Uprising – Harriet Allsopp (independent scholar)


21. The Kurdish Conundrum and the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1979-2003 – Nader Entessar (University of Southern Alabama)
22. Identities and Ethnic Hierarchy: The Kurdish Question Revisited in Iran – Olivier Grojean (Aix-en-Provence)
23. Fellow Arians and Muslim Brothers: Iranian Narratives on the Kurds – Walter Posch (Austrian National Defence Academy, Vienna)


24. The Kurdish Experience in Post-Saddam Iraq – Gareth Stansfield (University of Exeter)
25. Arabization as Genocide: The Case of the Disputed Territories of Iraq – Mohammed Ihsan (University of Erbil)
26. The Development of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Higher Education Sector: A Gender Perspective – Katherine Ranharter (University of Exeter)
27. Water and Development in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq – Greg Shapland (University of Exeter)
28. Peace Education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq: Evolution and Limitations – Kelsey Shanks (University of Exeter)
29. The Iraqi Kurdish Response to the “Islamic State”: Political Leverage in Times of Crisis – Benjamin Isakhan (Deakin University)
30. In Pursuit of Friends: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy – Renad Mansour (Carnegie – Beirut)
31. A Paradigm Shift in US-Kurdistan Region of Iraq Relations Post-2014: The Evolution to a Strategic Partnership – Mohammed Shareef (University of Exeter)
32. Re-claiming Halabja – Nicole Watts (San Francisco State University)
33. Media, Political Culture, and the Shadows of the Militia War in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq – Andrea Fischer-Tahir (Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin)
34. Experiences of Honor-based Violence, and Moving Towards Action in Iraqi Kurdistan – Nazand Begikhani (University of Bristol) and Gill Hague (University of Bristol)
35. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the Federal Constitution: A Perimeter Plinth of State Territorial Integrity or a Stepping Stone to Secession? – Francis Owtram (University of Exeter)


‘A timely and wide-ranging work on aspects of Kurdish history, identity and culture, placed in the context of wider developments affecting the politics of the Middle East. The contributions are by far leading specialists in the field. This is a major contribution to Kurdish and Middle Eastern Studies.’ — Philip Kreyenbroek, Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies, Georg-August University Göttingen

‘This volume will become a standard reference for all matters Kurdish and the definitive item in any research collection on the Middle East. A vital tool for students, scholars, and practitioners to understand the changing dynamics that have swept the region in recent years.’ — Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Baker Institute Fellow for the Middle East, Rice University; author of The First World War in the Middle East

‘A valuable addition to a critical debate. In an era when Middle East borders are fluid and changing this collection of essays shed an crucial light on a topic of enormous importance to the future stability and security of the region and the wider world. A vital read for scholars and policy makers alike.’ — Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian History and author of Iran: A Very Short Introduction

‘A comprehensive guide to Kurdish questions, past and present. Established and emergent authorities provide a dazzling display of virtuoso contributions. The future of Kurdish studies in English starts here.’ — Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

‘The Middle East has dramatically changed during the last few years due to the (mostly failed) Arab Springs, but also due to the new landscape of the Kurdish question. This important book offers an invaluable contribution to our understanding of these changes. Identity, gender, transnational, and national politics in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria are put in historical perspectives through chapters written by the leading scholars in Kurdish studies.’ — Gilles Dorronsoro, Professor of Political Science, Sorbonne University


Mohammed Shareef is a lecturer in politics and international relations of the Middle East at the University of Exeter, with expertise in Kurdish and Iraqi politics.

Gareth Stansfield is Professor of Middle East Politics and Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter.

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