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The 'Kurdish question' in Turkey From the Perspectives of Kurdish University students

Effeney, Elizabeth
This thesis is concerned with extrapolating some central issues of the so-called “Kurdish Question” in the Republic of Turkey by applying political anthropological theory and methodologies. It attempts to guage the political identities of five Kurdish University students and understand their perspectives on what constitutes and propogates Kurdish political discontents in the Republic. The following research questions have been addressed: How is Turkey‟s “Kurdish question” (Kürt Meselesi) perceived and defined by Kurdish, post-graduate university students from a university in Ankara? How have individual experiences shaped the participants‟ political identities? What are the relevant macro-level factors informing their political identities and their perceptions of the “Kurdish question”? For the sample group studied, the Kurdish identity has been found to be a highly political and socially stigmatized identity in Turkey. According to the respondents, the Kurdish identity (both group and personal) and its political overtures have developed in an ongoing dialect with an everchanging official Turkish nationalist doctrine that is executed through a state outfit whose legitimacy is anchored largely in the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Kurdish Question itself represents a broad range of issues. According to these university students, these issues are beginning to be addressed in line with attempts at political liberalisation and democratisation in the country that are a part of the EU-accession process as well as a product of developing education and an ever-“enlightened” population. Despite this, the respondents are hesitant to believe in positive political change for the Kurds in Turkey as much discussion of the „Kurdish Question‟ remains focused on the outlawed PKK and ongiıng conflict in the South East of the country. Kurdish discontents may also be seen to present and call for the recognition of a historical narrative which is divergent from the official line of state, a narrative which remains highly taboo at state and society levels.