Mass Violence and the Kurds: Introduction to the Special Issue
Keywords:Kurdish, Mass violence, Middle East, The Kurds
The Kurds’ experience with modern mass violence is long and complex. Whereas Kurds lived under the Kurdish Emirates for centuries in pre-national conditions in the Ottoman and Persian empires, the advent of nationalism and colonialism in the Middle East radically changed the situation. World War I was a watershed for most ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire, such as the Kurds, and some political minorities such as Armenians and Assyrians suffered genocide – including at the hands of Kurds. Moreover, the post-Ottoman order precluded the Kurds from building a nation-state of their own. Kurds were either relegated to cultural and political subordination under the Turkish and Persian nation states, or a precarious existence under alternative orders (colonialism in Syria and Iraq, and communism in the Soviet Union). The nation-state system changed the pre-national, Ottoman imperial order with culturally heterogeneous territories into a system of nation-states which began to produce nationalist homogenisation by virtue of various forms of population policies.
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