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Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State

Auteur : Hakan Özoğlu
Éditeur : State University of N.Y.P Date & Lieu : 2004 , New York
Préface : Pages : 204
Traduction : ISBN : 0-7914-5993-4
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 152x228 mm
Thème : Histoire

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State

Kurdish Notables and the Ottoman State

First and foremost, I would like to express my profound gratitude to my teacher and friend Stephen Dale for his support, encouragement, and guidance throughout the long years of this research. I feel truly fortunate to know him and privileged to call him a friend.

This book would not have been written if I did not have at my disposal the guidance and expertise of friends and colleagues at the University of Chicago including John Woods, Robert Dankoff, Cornell Fleischer, John Perry, Heshmat Moayyad, and Bruce Craig. At different stages of this work, I also benefited from the knowledge of Victoria Holbrook, Jane Hathaway, Selim Deringil, and Resat Kasaba.

I am also grateful to Yurdanur Serhat for introducing me to several Kurdish families through whom I collected much needed oral information about the previous generation of Kurds. Without her help, I would still be searching for the location of these people, let alone be able to convince them to sit down for an interview. With gratitude, I must also mention that the American Research Institute in Turkey partly funded this research. I am also indebted to Cambridge University Press and to Taylor-Francis Press ( for allowing me to utilize my previous articles in preparation of this book. In closing, I would like to thank my wife and daughters for providing me with the emotional support that enabled me to cope with the vicissitudes of such a long commitment. Needless to say, I accept full responsibility for the shortcomings of this book.


Entering the twenty-first century, the problem of Kurdish nationalism remains one of the most explosive and critical predicaments in the Middle East. With an estimated population of 20–25 million Kurds living mostly in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, there is a little doubt that the Kurds constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without a state of their own. In their efforts to establish their own state, Kurdish nationalist movements in the twentieth century were involved in many clashes with the governments of the states in which they resided. These confrontations claimed tens of thousands of lives, mainly those of civilians during the same period. In Turkey alone, the death toll for the most recent Kurdish uprising—that within the last decade and a half of the twentieth century—amounted to more than thirty thousand. At present, Kurdish nationalism is still regarded as a direct threat to the territorial integrity of the abovementioned states by their respective governments; and the fear is not entirely unjustified. The Kurdish question is evidently transnational in the modern Middle East, but it is also international. Sizable Kurdish diaspora communities live and actively participate in nationalist politics in many European countries, most notably in Germany, France, and Norway. Hence, the nationalist aspirations of the Kurds are of keen interest to the greater international community. Despite the pressing need to understand and explain the nature and origin of Kurdish nationalism, the subject regrettably remains poorly studied. There are several reasons for the lack of interest in studying Kurdish nationalism by mainstream scholarship in Middle Eastern Studies. The most visible one is political in nature. The politicization of Kurdish identity in the twentieth century is reflected in the polarization of the available scholarship, most of which has proven to be unreliable when subjected to vigorous academic scrutiny. Since Kurdish nationalism is regarded as a major threat to the territorial and political status quo in the Middle East, concerned states have discouraged scholars from directing their attention to the subject. In addition, because the access to primary sources has remained restricted and sporadic at best, scholars of the modern Middle East have turned their attention to more manageable topics with greater accessibility of source materials. With its international appeal, its reachable reservoir of available information, and sufficient grants, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has emerged as the principal nationalist issue in the Middle East for the new generation of graduate students. The Palestinian issue has thus inescapably overshadowed Kurdish nationalism, becoming the de facto representative of the problem of Middle Eastern nationalism in the context of international politics.

In an ambitious attempt to free the study of Kurdish nationalism from its current marginal position and to bring it into mainstream scholarship in Middle Eastern Studies, this book examines the issue in the context of the Ottoman Empire. It focuses primarily on understanding the social, political, and historical forces behind the emergence and development of Kurdish nationalism in the Ottoman context out of which it was born. The Kurds became an indispensable part of this polyglot world empire in the sixteenth century, and after its breakup the majority of Kurds remained within the borders of its successor state, the Republic of Turkey. Therefore, interactions between the Ottoman state and the Kurds helped shape the political future of modern Turkey. Despite their significance, however, works on the Kurds also remain unjustifiably at the periphery of Turkish Studies, depriving the field of a major component of its subject matter. No doubt, Kurds are also an important part of the history of the Republic of Turkey. In any case, to understand the link between the Ottoman and the Republican periods, it is useful to look, albeit we can only do so very briefly, at the significance of the Kurdish issue in the emergence of the Republic of Turkey.

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