Panel: The Anti-Kurdish Paradigm – From Sykes-Picot to the September 2017 Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan

26 11 2018

November 26, 2018, 1-3 p.m.

The National Press Club, Holeman Lounge

529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045

The KPRC is pleased to announce a panel discussion with Mr. Ismail Beşikçi.

Mr. Ismail Beşikçi is a renowned sociologist, Kurdologist, PEN Honorary Member and former Nobel Peace Prize candidate who caught the attention of international politics with his work on the Kurdish Question and the continuing struggle of Kurds including their right to self-determination in the age of nation-states. He is the author of numerous anthropological studies on the social stratification of Kurds and Kurdistan, which he portrays as an international colony under the occupation of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

Mr. Ismail Beşikçi was imprisoned in Turkey for a total of 17 years for his scientific works on the Kurds and the Kurdish cause which consistently contradicted the distorted Turkish official historiography and political discourse.

Kurdish aspirations for statehood predate the formation of the modern nation states of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey which rule over Kurdistan by employing both soft and hard power; from outright denial of the existence of the Kurds to forced assimilation and genocidal policies. Despite the discernible denial of the most basic human rights, let alone the right to self-determination, the plight of the Kurds received little attention in the global arena.

Mr. Ismail Beşikçi will discuss the Kurdish struggle for independence from Sykes-Picot to the recent Independence Referendum held in Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2017 and the reasons behind the lack of support from the international community.

For details click here.


Kurdish Policy Research Center Third Annual Conference

12 11 2018

The Evolving Geopolitics in the post-ISIL Middle East, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

11:40 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The National Press Club, First Amendment Lounge, 529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045

We are pleased to announce the KPRC’s Third annual conference which will be held on November 14, 2018 at 12:00 at The National Press Club, in Washington, D.C.

The conference aims to bring together leading academics, journalists, commentators, politicians and policy makers to offer perspectives on the fast-evolving situation in the Middle East, and particularly on Kurdish people’s rise to political and military significance in the region against the backdrop of the fall of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the rise of Iran as the new regional power.

Deliberations will be on the following themes:

How is Tehran’s rapid rise in the Middle East and its interventionist foreign policy undermining regional and global power relations while posing an existential threat to the Kurdish political gains in Iraq and Syria?

How has the campaign of violence and intimidation become the basis for the grip on power that Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party maintain? What are the geopolitical implications of Turkey’s policies towards the crisis in the Middle East and the Turkish involvement in Syria, which are frequently at odds with U.S. policies? Could Turkey resume its so-called ‘Democratic Initiative’ or ‘Kurdish Opening’ as the country is suffering through one of its worst economic and political crises stemming from its anti-Kurdish position?

What will be the new phase of U.S.-Kurdish relations in the post-ISIL period as ISIL subdued leaving its place to a much serious and strategic threat posed by Iran and its proxies in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere? Will the Trump administration continue and consolidate its partnership with Kurds in an effort to compel Iran and its proxies to leave Syria and Iraq? How long the US will tolerate the Turkish occupation of Syria? Could an agreement that disregards the Kurdish interests remedy fundamental issues in the Middle East and serve long-term U.S. interests in the region?

We hope that you can join us for this exciting event that aims at offering a better understanding of the enduring conflicts in the Middle East and potential solutions.


11:40 a.m.   Registration

                    Snacks and coffee available

12:00 p.m. Opening remarks

Panel I: Geopolitical implications of Turkey’s policies towards the crisis in the Middle East


Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Mr. Giran Ozcan, The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Representative to the US


Panel II: The new phase of US-Kurdish relations in the fast-evolving Syrian conflict


Ms. Ilham Ahmad, Senior Member of the Syrian Democratic Council

Mr. Bassam Ishak, President, The Syriac National Council in Syria

Ms. Sarah N. Stern, The Founder and the President of Endowment for Middle East Truth

Moderator:  Mr. Ethem Coban, Research Associate, Public International Law & Policy Group; Coordinator, Kurdish Studies Network


Panel III: Tehran’s growing influence in the Middle East: How did Iraq and Syria become Satellite States of Iran?


Dr. Najmaddin Karim, Former Governor of Kirkuk

Dr. David Pollock, Bernstein Fellow, Director of Project Fikra, The Washington Institute

Dr. Harold Rhode, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Gatestone Institute

Moderator:   Dr. Amy Austin Holmes, Fellow, The Wilson International Center for Scholars; Visiting Scholar, Weatherhead Scholars Program, Harvard University


* RSVP is required

All attendees will receive a valid QR code via email to pass through security gates at the entrance of The National Press Club.

For details click here.

New Book Out: Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies – Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field

4 11 2018

Baser, Bahar et al. (Ed.)

Rowman & Littlefield, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4985-7521-8

This edited volume presents thirteen contributions that reflect upon the practical, ethical, theoretical and methodological challenges that researchers face when conducting fieldwork in settings that are characterized with deteriorating security situations, increasing state control and conflicting inter-ethnic relations. More precisely, they shed light to the intricacies of conducting fieldwork on highly politicized and sensitive topics in the region of Kurdistan in Iraq, Syria and Turkey as well as among Kurdish diaspora members in Europe.

This volume is multidisciplinary in its focus and approach. It includes contributions from scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds, ranging from sociology and political science to social psychology and anthropology. The complexity of security situations, and the atmospheres of distrust and suspicion have led the contributors to be creative and to adapt their research methods in ways that at times transcend disciplinary boundaries and conventions. Relatedly, the contributions also open the often-considered Pandora’s box of discussing the failures in what is often a “messy” research field, and how to adopt one’s methods to rapidly changing political circumstances. This necessitates greater reflexivity in existing power relations of the surrounding context and how those affect not only the interaction situations between the researcher and the participants, but also raise questions for the overall research process, concerning namely social justice, representation and knowledge production. The contributions unravel this by unpacking positionalities beyond ethnicities, discussing how gendered and other positionalities are constructed in fieldwork interactions and by illustrating how the surrounding structures of power and dominance are present in every-day fieldwork.

What differentiates this book from the existing literature is that it is the first academic endeavor that solely focuses on methodological reflections aimed to the field of Kurdish Studies. It offers a comprehensive and multidisciplinary account of scholars’ fieldwork experiences in the Kurdish regions and as such, it is also of value to scholars conducting or about to conduct fieldwork in conflict regions elsewhere.

For details click here.

Discovery of First Kurdish PhD Published in Poland Announced

26 10 2018

We congratulate our colleagues from and the Section of Kurdish Studies in the Department of Iranian Studies in the Institute of Oriental Studies of Jagiellonian University who announced the discovery of the first PhD written on Kurdish subject by a Kurd, Abdullah Jalal Fatah and defended at the Institute of Sociology of Warsaw University in 1978. The thesis was written in Polish language under the guidance of prof. Józef Chałasiński. It’s title was Problemy rozwoju i upowszechniania kultury kurdyjskiej w Iraku (Developement and dissemination of Kurdish culture in Iraq). At the beginning Fatah studied at Łódź University and then he moved to Warszawa. For the access to the thesis and information about Abdullah J. Fatah we are vary grateful to Karwan Fatah-Black and Ali Ghafur. This discovery means that the first thesis on Kurdish subject written at Polish institution belongs to the Kurd and not the Polish researcher Leszek Dzięgiel, whose thesis was, however, the first published academic work.

Abdullah Jalal Fatah was born in Slêmanî (Sulaymaniyah) in February 1936. He was the first Kurd in Poland to write a PhD on Kurdish culture, which he defended in the department of sociology of Warszaw University in 1978. The thesis was written in Polish language and it’s title was: Problemy rozwoju i rozpowszechniania kultury kurdyjskiej w Iraku(Developement and dissemination of Kurdish culture in Iraq). At the same time it can be considered the first PhD on the Kurdish subject defended in Poland which we discovered only now, after many years. Therefore we are very happy to share this information and include Abdullah Jalal Fatah into our list of researchers and academics.

Abdullah was trained as an engineer and initially worked at the Dokan Dam in the Little Zab river in Kurdistan. During the 1960s the political situation in Iraq inclined him to move to Europe: first to Germany and later to Poland. In Poland he studied sociology, was active in the student movement, and worked with the leading Polish sociologists Józef Chałasiński and Antonina Kłoskowska on his PhD.

After obtaining his PhD degree he lectured at the university of Algiers, and subsequently moved to the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden, before he returned to Iraq where he took a position at the Salahaddin University of Erbil/Hêwler. For personal reasons and increasing pressure from the university leadership to join the Ba’ath Party he soon realized that he had to leave Iraq and return to Europe. Suffering from chronic conditions, however, his health deteriorated during his stay in an Iranian refugee camp and he passed away in Teheran in April 1985.

For more click here.

Invitation: Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy

26 10 2018

The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy will organize a meeting to discuss the formation of a global Kurdish academy that can shape, support, coordinate and promote scholarly research and debates on the issues related to the Kurds and Kurdistan. The first meeting of our initiative will take place at Middlesex University the Burroughs, Hendon London NW44BT.We propose two dates for the first meeting (15th December 2018 or 19th January 2019). Please participate via the doodle link below for identifying the date that could be the most convenient day and time four you.

The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy



As a short run objective, the Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy has been formed in order to support, coordinate and promote academic research by young scholars including but not limited to masters and Ph.D. students in the fields such as social sciences, humanities, psychology and linguistics. In the long run, however, the initiative bears the ambition of subsuming its activities under the banner of an academy.


The initiative, in order to achieve its short run goals, will assist researchers develop their projects in dialogue with the latest conceptual and methodological debates in the world academies; it will offer them assistance regarding sources and proposal design / funding opportunities. With these goals in mind, the initiative will form academic counseling units, organize conferences and offer online interactive presentations / courses.


The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy deems it as a priority to develop connections with universities and respected academic institutions. Thereby, it aims to enlarge its objectives vis-à-vis the sources and opportunities that it will manage to reach and create. The ultimate goal of the initiative’s activities is the creation of a Kurdish academy. However, given the instability and political oppression in the countries of the region –where the interests of the initiative are embedded—that deter academic activities, its base will initially be formed in Europe.



The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy is a global enterprise. It has been created by scholars who are currently based in North America, in Continental Europe, in England and in the Middle East. It is a platform open to scholars from varied institutional backgrounds, different schools of thought and diverse worldviews. The initiative has emerged thanks to the voluntary and complimentary inputs of the participants and will continue to operate as such. The founding initiative aims, on principle, to overcome and go beyond political fragmentation and cleavages that has long taken a toll on Mesopotamia / Kurdish / Kurdistani studies.


Founding Activities:

The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy will organize a inaugural convention in October 2018. The date and the place of the meeting will be announced shortly. At this convention, fields and guiding principles of the initiative’s activities will be discussed, and relevant executive units will be formed. A foremost important agenda item will be the creation of financial resources and establishment of a permanent administrative office for the initiative.


Following this founding convention in April 2019 the initiative aims to hold its first academic conference with the participation of Ph.D. students specializing in the abovementioned fields. In this meeting the methodological and conceptual aspects of the participants’ research projects will be interactively and dialogically discussed.


The Initiative for Mesopotamia Kurdish Academy envisions to hold its first interdisciplinary conference in June 2019. Academic institutions whose foci are in the fields described above will also be invited to the convention. In a special session of the conference the future of the Mesopotamia / Kurdish / Kurdistani studies will be discussed with regards to the experiences and current situation of area studies in the world.


All of these meeting will be held at locations in Europe due to current political instability in Kurdistan and consequent concerns about security / safety of participants.


This is not an absolute or final program; it will be reshaped according to the participants’ critiques, comments and proposals.


Institutional Participants:

Paris Kurdish Institute

Stockholm Kurdish Library

İsmail Beşikçi Foundation

Bruxelles Kurdish Institute


Call for Papers: Special Issue Kurdish Diasporas and New Social Locations – Making Sense of Displacement and Community Building

23 09 2018

Call for Papers Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies

Special Issue: Kurdish Diasporas and New Social Locations: Making Sense of Displacement and Community Building 

Guest editors: Stanley Thangaraj, City College of New York

Aynur de Rouen, Binghamton University

Kurdish communities have a long history of displacement, marginalization, and persecution in the Middle East/West Asia. They are the largest ethnic community without a state of their own. They have faced multiple oppressions at the hands of Western, Arab, Turkish, and Persian actors. There is now an emergence of vibrant scholarship on Kurdish diasporas in Europe, as there are large communities in Germany, Sweden, and England. However, little research has emerged in interrogating the diversity of Kurdish diasporic lives outside of Europe. Kurdish communities spread throughout the globe, in both the global north and the global south. For instance, the city of Nashville in the state of Tennessee in the United States has one of the largest community of Kurds outside of Kurdistan. Similarly, there are growing communities across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and other locations. Accordingly, each specific physical location provides very important historicities, social locations, and diverse lived experiences of diasporic Kurds that challenges the idea of singular or equivalent Kurdish identities. With the emerging literature on Kurds and Kurdistan, we emphasize the importance of Kurdish diasporic communities in new destination sites as important resources in understanding how Kurdistan is negotiated multiply, contradictorily, and in other unpredictable fashions. For example, the various locations of Kurdistan in legible national frames of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Iraq have also meant that forced national education systems with language mandates in Turkish, Arabic, and Persian has created different linguistic registers for Kurdish diasporas to make sense of their communities.

Yet, the particularity of diasporic lives also show the different and differential relationships to Kurdistan, the various constructions of Kurdistan, and the lived experiences in host nations.  As a result, a careful investigation of multiple Kurdish diasporas provides terrain for interrogating how diasporas form in relation to the host nation, to imagined contours of Kurdistan, and in relation to other Kurdish diasporic communities. The relationship between history, migration, and community building remains nuanced and complex.  On the one hand, it offers ways to think about long histories of resistance and challenge. On the other hand, it also offers us ways to talk about the complexities and problematics of community building that may inadvertently and intentionally create its own sets of subjugation and exclusion.

   This special issue aims to explore the changing social and cultural landscape ofKurdishdiaspora by engaging with many diasporic sites as a way to complicate understandings of diaspora, Kurdistan, and local lived experiences of identity. Through established and emerging theoretical perspectives, and original empirical studies, the objective of the volume is to provide a critical (re-)examination of the roles that new locations and social histories have indifferently inflecting Kurdish identity across various diasporic sites. In the process, we aim to trouble, complicate, and challenge conceptualizations of “diaspora.” We invite paper proposals and abstracts that critically engage with Kurdish diasporas in new destination sites or previous understudied place. Though by no means limited to these questions, we anticipate that papers might address the following topics:

  • How do multiple lived experiences and different forms of migration as well as residence link the various sites and communities of diaspora and homeland(s)? How do localized performances of Kurdish identity and host national identity facilitate imaginaries of “home” within the diaspora?
  • In what ways do these new locations facilitate the construction and articulation of “new ethnicities” / diasporic Kurdish identities?
  • How do the various social locations and lived experiences complicate and multiply inflect Kurdish identity? What is the relation of host nation, lived experiences, and visions of Kurdistan?
  • How are femininities, masculinities, queer identities and other forms of intersectionality articulated through Kurdish communities?
  • What are the implications of the “War on Terror”, empire and neoliberal politics for citizenship and community building in the Kurdish diasporas?
  • How do the ISIS campaigns and Turkish state violence become a means of negotiating longer histories of trauma, pain, struggle, creativity, and possibility in Kurdish diasporas?
  • What role does race play out in not only deciphering localized experiences in host countries but also in the Kurdish diasporic imagination of Kurdistan?
  • What are the creative and many performative ways of expressing Kurdish identity across categories of race, gender, sexuality, language, class, ability, and ethnicity in the Kurdish diaspora?

Final submissions can be:

  • Full-length articles (6,000 to 7,500 exclusive of references) that theoretically and/or empirically attend to walking methodologies (these will be double blind peer reviewed)

The journal is an open source online journal that currently publishes the papers as pdf files. Images and URL links can be included in submissions. All proposals will be submitted electronically as word documents, using APA citation format. Please send the manuscript to Stan Thangaraj (City College of New York) and Aynur de Rouen (Binghamton University) at and   If you have any questions, please do reach Stan and Aynur at the e-mail addresses posted above.



November 15, 2018: Proposal/expression of interest (250 words plus 50-word bio)

December 01, 2018: Authors will be notified of acceptance of their proposal

February 1, 2019:  Final submissions due for blind peer review, once comments and reviews are given back in 6 weeks, the final revised version should be submitted by April 30, 2019

For details click here


New Book Out: Comparative Kurdish Politics in the Middle East – Actors, Ideas, and Interests

9 09 2018

Tugdar Emel Elif & Al, Serhun (Eds.)

Palgrave, 2018

ISBN 978-3-319-53715-3

This edited volume introduces the political, social and economic intra-Kurdish dynamics in the Middle East by comparatively analyzing the main actors, their ideas, and political interests. As an ethnic group and a nation in the making, Kurds are not homogeneous and united but rather the Kurdish Middle East is home to various competing political groups, leaderships, ideologies, and interests. Although many existing studies focus on the Kurds and their relations with the nation-states that they populate, few studies analyze the Kurdish Middle East within its own debates, conflicts and interests from a comparative perspective across Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. This book analyzes the intra-Kurdish dynamics with historically-grounded, theoretically-informed, and conceptually-relevant scholarship that prioritizes comparative politics over international relations.

For details click here.