International Conference: The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism & the Future of Turkey – Virginia Tech, Thursday November 7, 2013


The Kurdish Question represents a longstanding battle between the state’s authority and cultural identity group demands in Turkey. In this context, the Republic of Turkey is not different than any other nation-state in the world, because it was created as a territorial-based form of identity, based on the modern understanding of citizenship.  However, as a result of the collapse of the multiethnic and multireligious Ottoman Empire, the state has struggled to build a cohesive territory-based form of identity and citizenship.

European colonial powers attempted to divide Turkey, and to create an independent de facto Kurdish state in the Middle East. However, powerful cultural groups across the Middle East such as Arabs, Persian and the Turks, placed the Kurds in a powerless position, therefore the Kurds have no friends but mountains.  US involvement in the Middle East, such as with the Kurdish question and Turkey began after WWII as a result of the decreasing trend of European colonialism. The US approach was very similar to imperialist British foreign policy, based on the mentality of divide and rule. In the 1960s, Mollah Mustafa Barzani and some Kurdish groups from Northern Iraq established a close relationship with the State of Israel as  a result of the migration of Kurdish Jews from Iraq. This had the side effect of helping the Kurds to connect with the American political establishment inside the beltway. From then until now, different Kurdish groups have been used for the interests of imperialist forces,  at the same time that they are repressed by the nation-states of the Middle East. The cultural rights of the Kurds have been ignored by the state elites, who see them as a threat to national identity building in the Middle East. This has established a vicious cycle, and created an intransigent political dilemma for the Kurds as well as for Iranians, Turks and Arabs. Neither the Kurds nor Arabs, Turks or Iranians are responsible for the consequences of imperialism. It has led to political and social chaos in the region. During the occupation of Iraq by the US, Kurdish groups were used by the Neoconservative establishment and the Israeli lobby; for example, Barham Salih (PUK), Hoshyar Zebari (KDP) and KRG have had a close relationship with powerful lobby groups inside the beltway. In this chaotic political game of imperialism, Kurdish rights have been used as a tool of political manipulation against Middle Eastern states by the imperial powers. In this conference, we will examine the role of imperialism, the current conditions of the Kurds, and seek to understand the future trajectories of the relationship between the Kurds and Turkey.

By Tugrul Keskin

Posted by Tugrul Keskin at MNo comments:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

International Conference The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey Thursday November 7, 2013


International Conference

The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey

Thursday November 7, 2013



Tel: 202-378-8606


Organized and Sponsored by

School of Public & International Affairs, Virginia Tech, National Capital Region

Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair (Indiana University)

Center for Turkish Studies (Portland State University)



PANEL – 1: 

Kurdish Nationalism and Imperial Legacy

8:30 – 10:00 AM

Moderator: Gerard Toal, Virginia Tech

De Facto States and the Independence Question: Is Iraqi Kurdistan an Exception? – Zheger Hassan (University of Western Ontario)

Europe’s Kurdish Diaspora as Bellwether – Vera Eccarius-Kelly (Siena College)

The Evolution of Kurdish Nationalism within the Turkish State Discourse – İnci Aksu Kargın (Indiana University, Bloomington)


PANEL – 2: Room – I 

Young Academicians and Kurdish Nationalism

10:30 – 12:00 AM

Moderator: Tuğrul Keskin, Portland State University


Modernization, Religiosity, and Ethno-nationalism of the Kurds in Turkey – Keri Hughes (California State University – Long Beach)

From Juba to Erbil: The Growth of Cross-­Continental Consciousness – Evan Fowler (John Hopkins University)

Foundational Mythology and The Discursive Construction of Terrorism in the PKK – Selim Can Sazak (Columbia University)

Political Mobilization Theory, Syrian Kurds and PKK – Wladimir van Wilgenburg  (The JamestownFoundation)


PANEL – 3: Room – II

Kurdish Nationalism in Contemporary Turkey

10:30 AM – 12 :00 PM

Moderator: Birol Yeşilada, Portland State University

Emergence of Kurdish Nationalist Movement: From Social Movement Theories Perspective –  Rahman Dağ (Exeter University)

The “Arab Spring” and the Kurdish Community: An Analysis of the Kurdish Movement in Turkey in the Aftermath of the Arab Revolutions – Tülin Şen  (King’s CollegeLondon)

Language and Nation Building: The History of Kurdish in Turkey – Engin Gülbey (Ankara Strategic Institute)

Evolution of Turkish Nationalism and the Changing Nature of Kurdish Problem – Salim Çevik (Ipek University)

PANEL – 4: Room -I 

PKK and Kurdish Nationalism

1:30 – 3:30 PM

Moderator: Birol Yeşilada, Portland State University 


US Policies and PKK’s New Situation  – Deniz Tansi (Yeditepe University)

The PKK and Kurdish Movement in the 1970s – Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya (Ghent University)

Turkey’s War on Terror: A Comparison of Applied Strategies in Dealing with the PKK –  Doğan Koç  (GülenInstitute-University of Houston)

Managing Violent Conflicts of Mesopotamia through Regionalism: Emergence of Kurdish Sphere as a Game Changing Actor for Contestation and Peace Process – Haluk Baran Bingöl (Kennesaw State University)

PANEL -5: Room -II

The Kurds and the Future of Turkey

1:30 – 3:30 PM

Moderator: Joshua Hendrick (Loyola University ofMaryland)


Understanding the “Kurdish Question”: an ethnographic case study in Yüksekova Tahir Abbas (Fatih University) and İsmail Hakkı Yiğit (Mississippi State University)

‘Prepared for Peace, Ready for War’? Context and Challenges of the Current Peace Process – Edel Hughes (University of EastLondon)

An Ethnographic Account of the Compulsory Public Service of Doctors in Hakkari: The Limits of the JDP’s Assimilation Strategy and the Production of Space – İlker Cörüt (Central European University)
Imperialism and Kurdish Nationalism in Turkish Press – Begümşen Ergenekon (
Middle East Technical University)

PANEL -6: 

The Kurds and the Future of Turkey

4:00 – 6:00 PM

Moderator: Kemal Silay, Indiana University,Bloomington

Negotiations Between Pro-Islamic Government and Öcalan, the PKK Question for Turkey – Ali Kemal Özcan (Tunceli University)

The AKP’s Kurdish“Closing” – Elif Genç (York University)

From the Right for Independence to the Claims for Territorial Autonomy: The Kurdish Questions in Turkey – Maya Arakon (SüleymanŞah University)

The Correlates of Kurdish ethno-nationalism in Turkey: A more definitive test – Faruk Ekmekçi (Ipek University)


DINNER: 7:30 – 10:00 PM




ALEXANDRIA, VA   |  22314


Kemal Silay, Professor of Turkish Language and Literature; Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Endowed Chair Professor; Director, Turkish Language Flagship Center; Director, Turkish Studies Program Indiana University

Gerard Toal, Professor of Government and International Affairs. Director of the Government and International Affairs program; Virginia Tech

Tuğrul Keskin, Assistant Professor of International and Middle East Studies; Affiliated Faculty of Black Studies Sociology, and Turkish Studies; Portland State University

Full Program: