Turkish nationalism and the Kurdish question

Yegen M.

ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES, vol.30, no.1, pp.119-151, 2007 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/01419870601006603
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.119-151
  • Keywords: Turkish nationalism, Kurdish question, republican period of Turkey, CITIZENSHIP, IDENTITY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


This article addresses the ways in which Turkish nationalism has perceived the Kurdish question. It is shown that both Turkish nationalism and the Kurdish question have passed through some paradigmatic moments in the twentieth century. This, I argue, has shaped the way that the Kurdish question has been perceived by Turkish nationalism. While the Kurdish question had been seen by Turkish nationalism mostly in terms of a fatal rivalry between the backward, pre-modern and tribal past and the prosperous present in the first half of the century, it was perceived in terms of a tension between the peripheral economy and national market in the fifties and sixties. In the 1970s, the Kurdish unrest was believed to be a product of communist incitement. Despite this impurity in perception, one thing has remained nearly unchanged for Turkish nationalism: Kurds could become Turkish. In other words, Turkish nationalism of the republican era has principally perceived Kurds as future-Turks. However, the signs in circulation at present indicate that the confidence of Turkish nationalism as to Kurds' potential of becoming Turkish is not as firm as it used to be. At present, Turkish nationalism seems to be getting prepared to abandon its contention that Kurds are future-Turks.