Rethinking the ‘Kurdish question’ in Turkey: Modernity, Citizenship and Democracy

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It is not possible to make Turkish modernity multicultural, Turkish democracy consolidated, Turkish economy sustainable, Turkish society a society of living together, and Turkish foreign policy proactive, multidimensional, and effective, without resolving the Kurdish question. The consolidation of Turkish democracy is the key to the solution of the problem through deliberation and by gaining the trust of society at large, insofar as it constitutes a broader context that goes beyond the limited nature of ethnic politics. Yet Turkey is facing a serious dilemma whose solution is of utmost importance in the determination of whether democratic deliberation and politics or the continuation of conflict and violence will shape the trajectory of the Kurdish question. While the Peace Process to disarm the PKK in a way to open up a space for sustainable peace, and the consecutive electoral successes of the HDP in the 7th of June and the 1st of November 2015 elections, together, rise hopes for democratic solution, the recent resurgence of conflict and violence in Turkey in a time when the future of MENA has been confronted by regional destabilizers varying from ISIL and its terrorist attacks to the wide spreading of internal wars, proxy wars, geopolitical power games and growing human tragedy pose a serious challenge. Once again, the Kurdish question is thrown in ambiguity and uncertainity as the pendulum has begun to swing towards despair from hope, conflict from politics, polarization from living together in diversity. In this article I suggest that the democratic solution to the Kurdish question lies in (a) a critical analysis of state-centric Turkish modernity and its recent crisis, as the Kurdish identity has always been constructed as the Other of Turkish national identity; and (b) an attempt aiming at a democratic reconstruction of the political in Turkey, which sees a multicultural and differentiated understanding of constitutional citizenship as a constitutive norm of ‘living together in diversity’. By doing so, it would be possible to seek a feasible and effective solution to the Kurdish question not in ‘ethnic terms’ but by exploring possible ways of ‘articulating identity-claims to citizenship rights with an emphasis on the practice of democracy’.




Keyman, E. F. (2016). Rethinking the ‘Kurdish question’ in Turkey: Modernity, Citizenship and Democracy. In Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations (Vol. 2, pp. 75–85). Springer Science and Business Media B.V.

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