The changing image of the Kurds in Turkish cities: middle-class perceptions of Kurdish migrants in Izmir

Saracoglu C.

PATTERNS OF PREJUDICE, vol.44, no.3, pp.239-260, 2010 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 44 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/0031322x.2010.489735
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.239-260
  • Keywords: exclusion, internal displacement, Izmir, Kurds, migration, nationalism, neoliberalism, racism, stereotypes, Turkey, urban studies, QUESTION
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Saracolu deals with the ways in which the Kurdish migrants living in the western cities of Turkey have been identified in middle-class discourse by certain pejorative labels and stereotypes. He argues that this new Kurdish image demonstrates the ethnicization of longstanding anti-migrant sentiments in Turkey. He develops and substantiates the argument by means of qualitative data gathered in a field study in Izmir between June 2006 and July 2007. The study involved ninety in-depth interviews with middle-class individuals living in the city and explored their anti-Kurdish attitudes. Through a close analysis of two of the common stereotypes that these interviewees deployed in the interviewsnamely, that the Kurds were 'benefit scroungers' and that they 'disrupt urban life' Saracolu explores the formation of the urban social context in which such perceptions have emerged. Close examination of the narratives of the middle-class respondents indicates that the development of a new image of the Kurds has occurred in an urban context shaped by the neoliberal transformation of Turkish cities, on the one hand, and the internal displacement of Kurdish migrants, on the other.