This study is an examination of how ethnicity and religion affect political behavior of Kurds of Turkey. Despite the presence of some predisposing factors (violent conflict, high ethnic polarization, and significant population size), a substantial portion of Kurds prefer non-ethnic political parties (specifically the ruling Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party) to the pro-Kurdish political parties that have struggled for certain ethnic political and cultural rights. This dissertation systematically and comparatively investigates the ethnicity-based demands (political and cultural) and ethnic identity perceptions of the Kurds who subscribe to either ethnic or non-ethnic political parties. To this end, I have developed a model based on a significant conceptual distinction, derived from the relevant literature, between ethnic category and ethnic group. I demonstrate that membership in the Kurdish ethnic category does not necessarily imply membership in the Kurdish ethnic groups constructed and led by Kurdish political entrepreneurs. More specifically, my argument in this study is two-fold: First, while Kurds generally support ethnic cultural demands, they differ significantly in terms of their political demands. That is, while the overwhelming majority of those who support the pro-Kurdish political parties constitute the Kurdish ethnic groups by sharing the political demands raised by their ethnic entrepreneurs, the majority of those who support non-ethnic political parties do not support these political demands. Second, I argue that there are two forms of Kurdish ethnic identity perception in relation to Islam: secular and non-secular/religious. The Kurds who support the pro-Kurdish political parties as ethnic political groups are more likely to adopt a secular form of Kurdish identity that has been constructed and promoted by the Kurdish political elites, while those Kurds who support the ruling Islamist party (JDP/AKP) are more likely to display a non-secular form of Kurdish identity.
|Commitee:||Khazzoom, Aziza, Smyth, Regina, Walbridge, John|
|Department:||Near Eastern Languages and Cultures|
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Middle Eastern Studies, Political science, Ethnic studies|
|Keywords:||Ethnic political behavior, Kurds, Religion and ethnicity, Turkish politics|
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