Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: BECOMING KURDISH: Migration, Urban Labor, and Political Violence in Turkey
Authors: Gunay, Onur
Advisors: Biehl, João
Davis, Elizabeth A.
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Drug Use
Islamic Studies
Labor Relations
Urban Studies
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Ethnic studies
Middle Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Throughout the 1990s, war brought about a sudden passage to urban life for millions of Kurds. Pursuing a policy of counterinsurgency, the Turkish state evacuated around 4,000 villages and displaced more than two million rural Kurds in this period. Istanbul was already host to a sizeable Kurdish population that had come to the city for its economic potential, making it one of the primary destinations for the displaced. Today, Kurds make up seventeen per cent of contemporary Istanbul’s total population, corresponding to almost three million Kurds. This number makes Istanbul “the world’s largest Kurdish city,” as the saying goes among Kurdish migrants. Today, two thirds of the Kurdish population in Istanbul is comprised of the urban working class. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Kurds move each year between the Kurdish region and Turkish metropoles in search of temporary jobs and daily wage-labor. My research shows how ethnic and social differences are recast through labor, as these differences mark migrant Kurdish men’s bodies, sexualities, life prospects, and senses of belonging in the city. The ways ethnicity intersects with religion, urban class identities, and gender constitute a central concern in my work. I analyze the factors shaping Kurdish migration patterns and how those migratory patterns intersect with Turkey’s changing socio-political and economic landscape. My writing foregrounds how Kurdish migrant workers articulate and perform their ethical understandings of self, kinship relations, and rights in relation to their struggles for economic survival and social mobility—all this in the context of dramatic economic restructuring and the rise of political Islam in Turkey. The ethnic difference that marks Kurds as targets of political violence is made and remade through their introduction into the labor processes and class relations that fashion cosmopolitan urban spaces. Seen from this perspective, “Kurdishness” is not an essential ethnic or political identity, but rather an uncertain form of becoming that generates new ways of being as one’s relations to self and others, to one’s own body and to one’s community, and to labor are transformed through experiences of loss, struggle, and recovery.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

Files in This Item:
There are no files associated with this item.

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.