In the Shadow of Secularism: Kurdish Ulema and Religious Nationalism from Sheikh Said to Hizbullah
AdvisorDarling, Linda T.
Hudson, Leila O.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 21-Dec-2018
AbstractKurdish ulema, a religious class with a strong influence on Kurdish social life, have developed various forms of religious nationalism. This study offers a possible reading of the accounts of Kurdish ulema during the Turkish Republican period, as a neglected form of Kurdish nationalism. I illustrate how they defined the Kurdish nation in the name of religion, supplied religious metaphors and symbols central to the representation of the Kurdish nation, and even produced an alternative to secular nationalism by sharing the underlying grammar of modern nationalism. This calls into question the concept of Kurdish nationalism as something uniform and secular. Such accounts of religious nationalism were largely suppressed in modern Kurdish history writing under Marxist influences. Since the 1940s, this historiography often marginalized the narratives of Kurdish ulema by setting them apart from Kurdish national struggle. This project provides the first in-depth analysis of the role of Kurdish ulema in the story of the development of Kurdish nationalism during the Turkish Republican period (1920s-1990s). My analysis challenges the dichotomy in the Kurdish nationalist historiography that Islamic and Kurdish identities are exclusive of one another. Kurdish ulema combined their Islamic identity with a strong sense of Kurdish national consciousness. Some envisioned the Kurdish nation’s liberation in education, some in joining secular national movements, some in conformity with Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood and some in political Islamic resistance. I emphasize that Kurds, whether secular or religious, formed a united front against Kurdish regional underdevelopment, exclusivist state policies, and exploitative sheikhs as late as the late 1960s. There has been an overlap between opposing Kurdish groups and the division between them was not primordial. These initially similar concerns, however, were gradually shaped by different popular ideologies of their day: nationalism, Marxism, and Islamism, in Turkey and around the world.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern & North African Studies