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Violence and nationalist mobilization: the onset of the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey

  • Güneş Murat Tezcür (a1)

Abstract

According to theories of nonviolent resistance, violence is counterproductive and undermines the ability of a movement to achieve mass support. At the same time, studies of ethnic insurgencies suggest that violence is the only available method of mobilization in political systems characterized by entrenched ethnic hierarchies. Engaging with these arguments, this article addresses a historical puzzle: What factors explain the timing and ability of the PKK's (Partiye Karkerên Kurdistan) rise as the hegemonic Kurdish nationalist organization in Turkey between the late 1970s and 1990? The article argues that studies that identify Kurdish nationalism as a reaction to repressive policies of the Turkish state without paying attention to prevailing social conditions and oppositional strategies fail to provide a satisfactory response. It argues that the rise of the PKK was primarily a function of its ability to gain support among the peasantry in deeply unequal rural areas through its strategic employment of violence. It also identifies four causal mechanisms of PKK recruitment based on rich archival and field research: credibility, revenge, social mobility, and gender emancipation.

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Corresponding author

* Email: gtezcur@luc.edu

References

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Keywords

Violence and nationalist mobilization: the onset of the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey

  • Güneş Murat Tezcür (a1)

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