Kurdistan and Kurdish Politics

Bahar Baser

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Kurds are an ethnic group in the Middle East and they constitute the biggest stateless nation in the world. It is estimated that more than 40 million Kurds live in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria and in other countries in the Middle East such as Lebanon. Approximately half of the world’s Kurdish population lives in Turkey. There is also a growing Kurdish diaspora in western Europe and in the United States, which emerged in the wake of both conflict-induced and voluntary migrations of the Kurds from their homeland. Although they constitute the largest or one of the largest minority groups in their respective homelands, their ethnic identity has not been historically recognized and they have been deprived of their minority rights. In each state in which they have lived, different mechanisms of oppression operated to deny them their identity, which in the end engendered different Kurdish resistance movements challenging the oppressive state authority that denied the Kurds their identity and their basic human rights. Because the Kurds have lived under different regimes, many linguistic, religious, ideological, and tribal differences emerged among Kurdish groups in the Middle East. In terms of religion, although the majority of the Kurds are Muslim, they belong to different sects of Islam (mainly Sunni or Alevi), and, thus, they cannot be treated as a homogenous group with the same affiliations and goals. Therefore, the sections in this article are divided into various subheadings that emphasize these differences. An important body of work has emerged on Kurdistan and Kurdish politics since the 1990s. Prior to then, it proved extremely difficult to conduct fieldwork in the region; nevertheless, many scholars did manage to contribute to the literature on the Kurds in completing careful ethnographic studies. Access to research opportunities is easier today and many scholarly works are based on ethnographic studies in all parts of Kurdistan. An established scholarship exists in various fields of social science, such as political science, international relations, sociology, and history. In addition, many scholarly works adopt an interdisciplinary approach. The topic attracts international scholars as well as scholars from the region. Therefore, literature on Kurdish studies is sufficiently abundant to include both insider and outsider views. The sources cited here serve as a guide to Kurdish studies, which offer an introduction to a deeper engagement with the literature.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalOxford Bibliographies
    VolumeInternational Relations
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Kurdistan
    • Kurdish


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