Turkish-Kurdish Conflict: An Ethno-Symbolist Exploration of Turks' and Kurds' Territorial Homeland Claims


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Virginia Tech


The conflict between ethnic minorities and nation-states has been subject to one of the most searching debates in the study of ethno-nationalism. The dominant approach among scholars is that ethnic conflicts stem from states' failure to recognize minority rights. Within the framework of this approach, it is assumed that ethnic conflicts occur due to the discriminatory policies on the part of the state. As a reaction to those policies, ethnic groups resist with rebellious elements. However this assimilation-resistance paradigm only considers the civic integration efforts of the state and fails to acknowledge the role of state's territorial integrity efforts and ethnic groups' demands to self-government in generating the conflict. Anchored in an ethno-symbolist framework, the purpose of this thesis is to explore the historical interpretational obstacles over the ownership of homeland between the states and ethnic groups when working towards a conflict resolution. Through a case study of Kurdish-Turkish conflict, this thesis addresses the different meanings of territory held by the state and the ethnic groups as one of the major causes of ethnic conflicts.



Kurdish-Turkish conflict, territory, Ethno-symbolism