New Book: Records of the Kurds – Territory, Revolt and Nationalism, 1831–1979

6 10 2015

xlogo.jpg.pagespeed.ic.o8P1d74RttAnita Burdett (ed.)

Cambridge University Press, 2015

ISBN: 9781840973259

These nine thousand pages of facsimile documents trace early insurgencies directed by the Kurdish people against regional and metropolitan powers, and their interrelations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups at historical flash points, from the origins of nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the nineteenth century, and then on to a larger, more cohesive and discernible nationalist movement launched in the aftermath of World War I. They concomitantly depict the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish ‘homeland’, the use of the term ‘Kurdistan’ generally refers to an agreed geographical area, not to a legal or political entity.

Kurdish populated territory evolved over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with some regions becoming entrenched, others subject to constant flux. The map box provides illustrations of the changing territory, or those sections subject to alterations and contestation.

Records of the Kurds: Territory, Revolt and Nationalism, 1831–1979 offers an exhaustive account of Kurdistan’s geography in one of the most extensive documentary collections published to date. The collection includes extensive information on Kurdistan’s mountain passes and pastures; its forts, hamlets, villages, and small and large towns; its natural resources, such as water, oil, and items of trade; its roads, gorges, peaks, ridges, defiles, bridges, valleys, plains, deserts, marshes, and the like. Even the region’s geological, botanical, and zoological specimen are painstakingly catalogued.

This collection provides many highly valuable documents from the period, including those written by prominent Kurdish personalities and organizations, showing in particular detail how the war and post-war world affected the identity and political allegiance of the people of Kurdistan. One of the other key aspects of the set is the insight it provides into the social and political developments in Kurdistan over an extended historical period. It charts the tensions amongst the Kurdish community as well as their interactions with neighbouring communities and their often-uneasy relationships with various states and their representatives. The collection also constitutes an extremely important record of the gradual growth and development of the Kurdish movement over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Kurdish ‘problem’, as it has often been labelled, has been a historiographical issue as well. The limited study of the area, often prevented by the pressures of regional states, however, is fast changing, and The Records of the Kurds, as the most extensive documentary source to be published so far, will only strengthen this trend and provide scholars from around the world with direct access to these extremely informative British documents.

All relevant documents which could be traced from the surviving records of the Government of India at the British Library, as well as the records of the Foreign Office, War Office, India Office, Colonial Office and Cabinet at the National Archives pertaining to Kurds or to Kurdistan as a regional entity for the period have been sourced and included, with the exception of duplicates and draft documents.

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