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Akin Unver – “Turkey’s Kurdish Question: What do the 1990s tell us about contemporary politics?”

September 17, 2015 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

NEW LOCATION: This event will now be held in Knox Hall, Room 509.

The Kurdish question is one of the most complicated and protracted conflicts of the Middle East and will never be resolved unless it is finally defined. The majority of the Kurdish people live in Turkey, which gives the country a unique position in the larger Kurdish conundrum. Society in Turkey is deeply divided over the definition and even existence of the Kurdish question, and this uncertainty has long manifested itself in its complete denial, or in accusations of political rivals of ‘separatism’ and even ‘treason’.

In this talk, Dr. Unver explores how these denial and acknowledgement dynamics often reveal pre-existing political ideology and agenda priorities, themselves becoming political actions. While the very term “Kurdish question” is discussed in the academic literature as a given, a new and systemic study is required to deconstruct and analyze the constitutive parts of this discursive construct. This book, Turkey’s Kurdish Question Discourse & Politics Since 1990, upon which this talk is based on, provides the first comprehensive study and analysis of the discursive constructions and perceptions of what is broadly defined as the “Kurdish question” in Turkish, European and American political cultures. Furthermore, its new methodological approach to the study of discourse and politics of secessionist conflicts can be applied to many similar intra-state conflict cases.

Through a concise discussion of the book, the talk will explore what lessons do the conflict-prone 1990s give us about the politics and ideology on the Kurdish question, as well as why past attempts at its resolution have failed.

Karen Barkey, Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, will act as interlocutor.

Akin Unver is an assistant professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University, specializing on energy politics, conflict psychology and radicalization sociologies. In addition, he studies discourse theory, Regional Security Complex Theory and psychoanalytical approaches to decision-making and teaches courses on Politics of the Middle East, Diplomatic History, Energy Security  and Security Theory.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.


September 17, 2015
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
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Knox Hall, Room 509
606 West 122nd St
New York, NY 10027 United States
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