Issue 28 – Kurdish Issue/Dynamic in the Axis of History, Class and Geography 1

Editors: Cenk Saraçoğlu – Ali Ekber Doğan

Kurdish Issue in the Context of Ethnical and Class Construction Processes
Cuma Çiçek

The Kurdish issue in Turkey has been typically defined by large groups of people including some within the Kurdish movement itself as a “problem of ethnic identity”. On the other side, it can be observed that a significant part of the political movements affiliated to Marxist and socialist tradition assesses the Kurdish movement within the framework of nationalism, and endeavours to
draw attention to the class dimension of the battle. As such one can claim that in regards to the Kurdish issue there are two different readings, one to be “ethnic- based” and the other to be “classbased”. Both interpretations are replete with the problem of not taking into account adequately the dynamic interaction between class identities and ethnic identities. In this article, the Kurdish issue is analyzed by means of interpreting the class and ethnic dynamics in an interrelated manner. By taking the Kurdish issue as a point of departure this article discusses the role that the dynamic relationship between ethnic identity and class relations play in the formation of class and ethnicity- based hegemony. In this vein, first of all, the dynamic unity of ethnic and class dimensions of the Kurdish question is analyzed within the context of the problem of regional inequality. This will be followed by another discussion that explicates the new dynamics that was offered by the project of Democratic Autonomy, a kind of a regional autonomy project that Kurdish movement asserts. In summary this paper asserts that in the context of the Kurdish question it is impossible to understand class relations refrained from ethnicity; nor can one understand ethnicity in separation from class relations. On the one hand, class relations inform and expose such asymmetrical social relations as ethnicity, religion and gender. On the other hand class relations themselves form and operate by means of the differentiations wrought by these asymmetrical relations.

Keywords: Kurdish Issue, ethnicity, class,regionalization, regional inequality, regional autonomy.

Kurdish Migration to Istanbul: A Debate to be Reconstructed
Jean-François Pérouse
Translator: Selim Sezer

The various explanations of Kurdish immigration to Istanbul are evidence of the difficulties of breaking free from conceptions related to ethnicity and of resisting stigmatization. In newspapers,
political discussions and academia, immigration tends to be presented exclusively in ethnic terms. Accordingly, a homogeneous “Kurdish population” is postulated without taking into account differences in socioeconomic status and between generations or genders. This amalgam stems either from the rejection of migrants by residents in Istanbul who see them as being illegitimate and as a threat or else from a form of compassion felt by other residents who see every Kurd as a victim to be defended. To escape from this overpowering ethnic paradigm, other ways of understandingthis immigration are presented.
Keywords: migration, ethnicity, Kurdish question, population, city, identity, class.

Criminalization of Poverty, Racialization of Crime: Historical Heritage of Capitalism and Turkish Example
Zeynep Gönen

Stuart Hall et al. (1978) proposes that crime is not simply an act against the law, but a social relationship, whose dynamics can be understood within the historical, political, economic and cultural
context in which crime takes place. This article, first of all, provides a historical and theoretical framework for the role crime plays in the production of race and class in capitalist societies. Following this, it tries to make sense of the processes of criminalization and racialization of Kurdish populations in contemporary Turkey. The criminalization of Kurds that have become prevalent especially since the late 1990s rest on the idea that Kurds are responsible of the insecurities in the big cities with their criminal culture. At the same time it is produced by the state practices, particularly through the institutions of police and punishment. This way, while Kurdish poor are marginalized in the economic hierarchies, the category of criminality provides new dimensions to the ways in which Kurds are racialized. In turn, the paper argues that the criminalization of poor migrant Kurds in large cities is related to social and political dynamics defined by neoliberalism and the war on terror.
Keywords: Criminalization, Racialization, Kurdish Poor, Neoliberalism, Turkey.

Diyarbakır: Observing the Everyday Life via the Illustration Qırıx
Yonca Güneş Yücel

This study examines the everyday life of Diyarbakır in the 1990s via the illustration Qırıx of Doğan Güzel, the caricaturist of Özgür Gündem. How the conflict is experienced in the everyday life of Diyarbakır people, how it is represented in human fears and concerns are handled through this illustration. While seeking to introduce different representation areas embodied with the character Qırıx this research also tries to state that the character embraces different forms of resistance.
Keywords: Qırıx, everyday life of Diyarbakır, areas of representation, resistance forms.

Creating a Company out of the River Munzur: the Dynamics of Capital  Acumulation in Dersim through an Analysis of the Case of Munzur Corporation
Ş. Gürçağ Tuna-Bayram Güneş

This study analyzes the process of creating a corporation in Dersim, where capitalist relations are the “weakest” in Turkey, which is itself a late capitalist country. The fact that capitalist relations are not well-established and that industry is almost null in the region highlights the subject matter of the study so as to emphasize the dynamics of the capitalist order. However, the region has the potential of practising alternative models to capitalist relations of production since leftist movements are dominant in here. How the capitalist accumulation process bears the said authentic features in Dersim shall be explained through the case of Munzur Corporation and in that sense Munzur Corp. has much potential to display the relationship between local cultural values and capitalism.
Keywords: Dersim, corporations, market, water, capitalism, capital accumulation, locality.

“Certain” People’s Lives are less Grivable: Violence and Kurdish Question
Burcu Şentürk

Kurdish Question from the very beginning of Turkish Republic has been redefined in terms of the domestic political agenda as well as the changes in the international political power balance by the official ideology of Turkish Republic. This question has been examined through the problems of education, backwardness, development. With the emergence of PKK, it was dominantly perceived through the problem of PKK sponsored terrorism. Contemporarily, reducing the Kurdish question to a problem of terrorism obstructs discussing the various aspects of this problem and conceals the human rights violation in the name of the struggle against terrorism which is a dominant world-wide perspective on conflict resolution. In this study, Galtung’s perspective on peace will be the main axis and it will be argued that his categories of violence namely direct, structural and the cultural violence will be taken as three main obstacles for a possible peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Turkey.
Keywords: Kurdish Question, “Direct, Structural and Cultural Violence”, Struggle Against Terrorism, “Conflict Resolution”, Peace.