Call for Papers: International Conference: The PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey

The School of Public & International Affairs, Virginia Tech, National Capital Region, the  Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair (Indiana University) and the Center for Turkish Studies (Portland State University) plan to organize an international conference on the PKK, Kurdish Nationalism and the Future of Turkey. This will be a one day conference with four specific panels. The conference will be held at the Virginia Tech Alexandria Campus, in the heart of Old Town, Alexandria, and the Washington DC metro region.

The objective of this conference is to understand the complex relationship between Kurds and Modern Turkey. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire left unprecedented political conditions in the region, with the formation of nation-states without any social and economic foundations. In this context, the new form of nationalism attempted to create a territory-based form of national identity; however, demographic challenges such as urban and rural demographic contradictions), a lack of higher education, lack of an established rule of law and of capital accumulation has led to instability and the formation of a non-organic type of modernization and national identity in the region and Turkey. In the meantime, transnational economic development has weakened the role of the nation-state over the last 30 years and ethnic nationalisms have emerged across the Middle East. This set the stage for the resurgence of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. The Marxist-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) first waged war against the Turkish Nation State in 1984. However, as a result of the social, political and economic transformations in the world and US involvement in the region, the PKK changed its ideological foundation from Marxism to nationalism in 1995, as part of the 5th PKK Congress. At this time, the Marxist star was removed from its flag and ethnic nationalist symbols and slogans were used to replace it. At the same time, more than sixty percent of the Kurdish population migrated to non-Kurdish industrialized cities in Turkey. Today, the Kurdish population in modern Turkey is more educated, urbanized, and they invest in the Western as much as the Eastern part of the country. Therefore, aspirations and objectives of Kurdish Nationalism is currently in a stage of transformation, and its objectives have begun to shift from that of obtaining an independent Kurdish State to seeking the status as equal citizens of modern Turkey. The latter objective – the integration of the Kurdish population into the larger population of Turkey – is likely to create numerous opportunities for the modernization of Turkey and the wider region. In this conference, we will explore this transformation, and possible future trajectories between Turkey and its relations with the Kurds.

Deadline: August 19th

More detailed information on the conference can be found here.

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