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Ethnic and religious identities in northern Iraq : the case of Erbil

Kaplan, Muharrem
The purpose of this study is to discuss the role of the religion and language, Islam Kurdish, in the process of Kurdish identity formation in Northern Iraq and to find out the most imperative factor/s in the existing identification of Kurdish identity by relying on the field research conducted in Erbil. The current discussions in the literature generally either emphasized the role of religion by focusing on the tariqat relations, and/or the role of feudal structure of the Kurdish society by focusing on the tribal relations, and/or the role of the culture by specifically focusing on the language as way of identification. In this study, the results of the field research conducted in Erbil are being compared to the arguments in the existing literature that explain the Kurdish identity in relation to the religion and the language. The study aims to discuss whether there is a shift from the religion, which had a significant role in history regarding the Kurdish identification, to the language, as a marker of modern Kurdish identity formation in Erbil. The research that conducted for this thesis has indicated that while the role of religion lost its historical role, the Kurdish language became the indicator of the identity of the Kurds in Erbil. In addition, this study will examine, in historical context, how the Kurdish language became the core issue of the Kurdish identity. The findings of the field research have been analyzed by using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) software program.