Kurdish Awakening: Nation Building in a Fragmented Homeland

Kurdish Awakening: Nation Building in a Fragmented Homeland

by Ofra Bengio


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Kurdish Awakening examines key questions related to Kurdish nationalism and identity formation in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. The world’s largest stateless ethnic group, Kurds have steadily grown in importance as a political power in the Middle East, particularly in light of the “Arab Spring.” As a result, Kurdish issues—political, cultural, and historical alike—have emerged as the subject of intense scholarly interest. This book provides fresh ways of understanding the historical and sociopolitical underpinnings of the ongoing Kurdish awakening and its already significant impact on the region.

Rather than focusing on one state or angle, this anthology fills a gap in the literature on the Kurds by providing a panoramic view of the Kurdish homeland’s various parts. The volume focuses on aspects of Kurdish nationalism and identity formation not addressed elsewhere, including perspectives on literature, gender, and constitution making. Further, broad thematic essays include a discussion of the historical experiences of the Kurds from the time of their Islamization more than a millennium ago up until the modern era, a comparison of the Kurdish experience with other ethno-national movements, and a treatment of the role of tribalism in modern nation building. This collection is unique in its use of original sources in various languages. The result is an analytically rich portrayal that sheds light on the Kurds’ prospects and the challenges they confront in a region undergoing sweeping upheavals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292758131
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 11/15/2014
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

OFRA BENGIO is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, as well as Associate Professor (Emerita) in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University. A frequent commentator in Israeli and world media, she is the author of several books, including The Kurds of Iraq: Building a State within a State. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Table of Contents

  • Acronyms
  • Foreword (Uzi Rabi)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction (Ofra Bengio)
  • Part I
    • Kurdish Nationalism in Comparative Perspective (Benyamin Neuberger)
    • Historical Setting: The Roots of Modern Kurdish Nationalism (Michael Eppel)
    • The Dual Relationship between Kurdish Tribalism and Nationalism (Eli Amarilyo)
  • Part II
    • Kurdish Integration in Iraq: The Paradoxes of Nation Formation and Nation Building (Sherko Kirmanj)
    • The Evolution of National Identity and the Constitution-Drafting Process in the Kurdistan-Iraq Region (Rachel Kantz Feder)
    • Forging an Iraqi-Kurdish Identity: A Case Study of Kurdish Novelists Writing in Arabic (Ronen Zeidel)
  • Part III
    • A Tale of Political Consciousness: The Rise of a Nonviolent Kurdish Political Movement in Turkey (Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak)
    • The Role of Language in the Evolution of Kurdish National Identity in Turkey (Duygu Atlas)
    • The Kurdish Women in Turkey: Nation Building and the Struggle for Gender Parity (Heidi Basch-Harod)
  • Part IV
    • The Kurds in Syria: Caught between the Struggle for Civil Equality and the Search for National Identity (Eyal Zisser)
    • Toward a Generational Rupture within the Kurdish Movement in Syria? (Jordi Tejel)
  • Part V
    • The Kurds in Iran: The Quest for Identity (Nader Entessar)
    • The Nostalgic Republic: The Kurdish Republic of 1946 and Its Effect on Kurdish Identity and Nation Building in Iran (Hussein Tahiri)
  • Conclusion: The Kurdish Momentum (Ofra Bengio)
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Contributors
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Gareth Stansfield

"Researchers of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran—in addition to broader international studies—will find this book to be significant. Kurdistan is becoming far more important in regional politics, and this will increase over the next few years. . . . This book is a sober, academically nuanced reading of a very complex and transformative situation."

Charles G. McDonald

"This book complements many previous studies not only by [taking account of] contemporary developments, but also by exploring the changing role of the Kurds in their host states, the region, and the world. The experience of more than 30 million Kurds without a state is not unlike many other ethnic and religious groups that make up so many nation-less states. The literature on the Kurdish identity and issues of assimilation has moved beyond the politics of imperialism and self-determination to a rich world of multidisciplinary scholarship. This book plays a positive role in continuing the process."

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