Friday, October 18, 2013

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

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

Full Program: 

Tel: 202-378-8606
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

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


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)
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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CALL FOR PAPERS: International Conference: The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Virginia Tech National Capital Region
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-706-8111

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)

We plan to organize an international conference on the PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey. This will be a one day conference with four specific panels. The conference will be held at the Virginia Tech Alexandria Campus, in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria, and the Washington DC metro region.  

The objective of this conference is to understand the complex relationship between Kurds and Modern Turkey. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire left unprecedented political conditions in the region, with the formation of nation-states without any social and economic foundations. In this context, the new form of nationalism attempted to create a territory-based form of national identity; however, demographic challenges such as urban and rural demographic contradictions), a lack of higher education, lack of an established rule of law and of capital accumulation has led to instability and the formation of a non-organic type of modernization and national identity in the region and Turkey. In the meantime, transnational economic development has weakened the role of the nation-state over the last 30 years and ethnic nationalisms have emerged across the Middle East. This set the stage for the resurgence of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The Marxist-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) first waged war against the Turkish Nation State in 1984. However, as a result of the social, political and economic transformations in the world and US involvement in the region, the PKK changed its ideological foundation from Marxism to nationalism in 1995, as part of the 5th PKK Congress. At this time, the Marxist star was removed from its flag and ethnic nationalist symbols and slogans were used to replace it. At the same time, more than sixty percent of the Kurdish population migrated to non-Kurdish industrialized cities in Turkey. Today, the Kurdish population in modern Turkey is more educated, urbanized, and they invest in the Western as much as the Eastern part of the country. Therefore, aspirations and objectives of Kurdish Nationalism is currently in a stage of transformation, and its objectives have begun to shift from that of obtaining an independent Kurdish State to seeking the status as equal citizens of modern Turkey. The latter objective – the integration of the Kurdish population into the larger population of Turkey - is likely to create numerous opportunities for the modernization of Turkey and the wider region. In this conference, we will explore this transformation, and possible future trajectories between Turkey and its relations with the Kurds.          

You will find detailed information about the conference below:

PANEL-1: Kurdish Nationalism in Iran, Iraq and Syria
We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following subjects:
•    Kurdish nationalism in Iran
•    Kurdish nationalism in Iraq
•    Kurdish nationalism in Syria
•    Kurdish nationalism in the Diaspora

PANEL-2: Kurdish Nationalism in Contemporary Turkey
We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following subjects:
•    Kurdish Nationalism in historical context
•    Kurdish and Turkish nationalisms
•    Imperialism and Kurdish nationalism
•    American foreign policy towards Turkey and the Kurds

PANEL-3: PKK and Kurdish Nationalism
We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following subjects:
•    Origin and development of the PKK
•    The PKK and the ‘war on terrorism.’
•    Relationship between the PKK, the US and Europe

PANEL-4: The Kurds and the Future of Turkey
We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following subjects:
•    The future relationship between Kurds and Turkey
•    JDP and Kurdish Nationalism
•    Kurdish regional government and Turkey
•    Future trajectories of American foreign policy towards Turkey and the Kurds
•    Future trajectories of Turkish and Kurdish politics 

Please submit your interest, with a short abstract (300-400 Words) and short bio (100-200 words). The deadline for abstract submissions is Monday, August 19th 2013. The authors of accepted papers will be notified by September 1st 2013.

Please submit your paper to the following address: tugrulk(at)

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate contact us.