Turkish Studies

Conference: Historical and Comparative Perspectives on Kurdish Politics

November 2-4, 2016
Scott Hall, Guild Lounge
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois

Kurds gathered in Istanbul

The Kurds are one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without a state, constituting sizable minorities in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

They have recently become prominent in world politics due to their fight against the Islamic State in the midst of Syria’s civil war. Yet until now, their history has largely been one of marginalization, oppression, and resistance across borders.

It is estimated that about half of world's more than 30 million Kurds live in Turkey, where they have struggled for self-governance through parliamentarian politics and armed conflict for more than 30 years. The three-year peace talks between the Turkish State and the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê, the main armed group of the Kurds) were terminated in July 2015 by the Turkish state, leading to yet another cycle of violence.

Hundreds of civilian casualties, thousands of displaced Kurds, and terrified Kurdish and Turkish societies thus joined the long history of violence and deprivation in Turkey.

This international conference brought together cutting-edge research examining the last hundred years of Kurdish existence in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic in a historical and comparative perspective. Read more about the conference or view the schedule.