Kurds and their Struggle for Autonomy: Enduring Identity and Clientelism is a comprehensive study of the roots of Kurdish identity, the processes of identity formation among the Kurds, and the Kurds’ seemingly never-ending struggle for self-determination. By relying on a hybrid theoretical model of identity politics, this book offers a thorough treatment of the origins, characteristics, and evolution of Kurdish culture in general, and political culture in particular. It also examines the historical explanations and nuances of Kurdish struggles for some form of autonomy, assesses economic imperatives that shape the potentials and challenges of Kurdish social and political life, and offers a critical review of the contemporary Kurdish institutional and policy dynamics in Iraq and Syria.
Mehran Tamadonfar is professor of comparative and international law and politics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Roman Lewis is visiting assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
List of Abbreviations
1: Identity Politics, Nationalism, and Ethnic-Nationalism: Concepts, Theoretical Paradigms, and Challenges
2: The Kurds: Their Land, Demographics, Tribalism, Language, Religion, and Economy
3: Kurdish Political Culture, Religions, and History
4: The Kurdish Civil Society
5: Kurdish Governance in Iraq and Syria: Clientelism and Political Institutions and Processes
6: Public Policies and Intergovernmental Relations
About the Authors
Mehran Tamadonfar and Roman B Lewis do a superb job of providing a theoretically solid and empirically rich analysis of the emergence and development of Kurdish nationalism. The authors do not only provide an in-depth analysis of Kurdish politics but also put it into a comparative context, making the book relevant for broader audiences. This book will remain a reference to those who are interested in Kurdish politics in particular and ethnonationalism in general.
The Kurdish people are the fourth largest ethnic community in the Middle East and one of the largest stateless people in the world. Despite an explosion of literature in the 21st century, the Kurds remain the least understood people of the Middle East. Kurds and their Struggle for Autonomy is a much-needed counterpoint to the poor quality of the existing literature. The authors develop a theoretical framework incorporating aspects of modern and postmodern theory to explore the roots of Kurdish national identity and political aspiration. It constitutes the single most comprehensive work on the cultural, social, and historic foundation of the least understood people of the Middle East. The book is objective while remaining sympathetic to its subject. It contains a wealth of information, not readily available previously even to scholars in the field. An impressive accomplishment that should become a standard reference, I recommend it without hesitation to students and scholars in the field.
Tamadonfar and Lewis's book on the Kurdish people, their cultural richness, and political aspirations is an intellectual tour de force. It combines thorough research with a gripping narrative of a people seeking their political and legal freedom on the global stage. It is a must-read book for students of the Middle East and the Muslim world; and I plan to use it as a core text in my courses
This systematic, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary study examines the foundations and present manifestations of Kurdish political and cultural self-determination within Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Described as the largest stateless nation in the world, with a total population numbering between 25 and 35 million, Kurdish speakers have occupied the Zagros and southeastern Taurus mountains for thousands of years, mostly within parochial, seminomadic communities organized on the basis of tribal structure and religion. Since the early-20th-century breakdown of empires and the rise of republican governments in the region, many Kurds have been forcibly relocated or have migrated voluntarily to other settings, particularly Europe. The authors present very useful, though exclusively macro-level, theoretical overviews of identity politics, political culture, and civil society. They apply their “hybrid” interpretations to struggles for cultural identity and representation in Turkey and Iran and to contemporary patterns of governance and policy development within the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq and the semiautonomous Rojava system in Syria. They emphasize linguistic, cultural, and religious commonalities among Kurdish populations while also noting intense internal political divisions and continuing opposition from state governments, which impede the formation of an independent Kurdish state. Recommended. Undergraduates through faculty; general readers; professionals.