Evolution of Turkish Nationalism and the Changing Nature of Kurdish Problem

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Denial of Kurds for the sake of a supposedly civic nationalism was the root cause of Kurdish problem. However, simple recognition of Kurds as an ethnic minority doesn’t mean the end of Kurdish problem. Recognition of Kurds as an ethnic minority opens multiple ways for the evolution of Turkish nationalism and the fate of Kurds in Turkey. The relation between the (Turkish) nation-state and Kurds can evolve in at least three directions:
1- First option would be the evolution of Turkish nationalism towards a more accommodative and composite nature. Although this option also demands legal and administrative adjustments, these adjustments can be done within the framework of a unitary nation state. Taken to the extreme this is the solution offered by liberals as the building of a “supra identity” called Turkiyelilik. The problem with the idea of “Turkiyelilik” is that it is artificial and doesn’t have the emotional power of Turkishness or Kurdishness.
2- Turkey might give up its ideal of being a mono-cultural nation state and officially become a state composed of (at least) two ethnic groups. Probably this will also lead to a change in the political organization, i.e federation. Major problem with this option is the difficulty to maintain political unity in an officially divided society.
3- Kurds might face exclusion. Kurdish demands for political recognition as a distinct group might come with the burden of exclusion from the majority nationality, and re-definition of Kurds as a minority group. This might result with Kurds facing the exclusionary policies other minority groups (non-Muslims) so far faced. While non-Muslims were accepted as minority groups, Kurds didn’t have the same status. However, their denial of a corporate status so far, also saved them from the exclusionary politics non-Muslims faced.


  • Salim Cevik
External organisations
  • Ipek University
  • Bilkent University
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch