The Kurdish people: between diaspora, new wars and biopolitics
By Gabriele Leone, PhD candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences
What inspired me to begin my doctoral research was my interest in the Kurdish people, their his-tory, and their difficulty in seeing a principle of international law that enshrines the self-determination of peoples affirmed.
The Kurds are a people without a state, because their territory is divided between different coun-tries: Turkey is the largest part, where 13 million Kurds live; then Iran, Iraq and Syria, the country that in recent years has been the victim of a terrible war, from which millions of refugees
The territory of the Kurds is called Kurdistan, meaning Land of the Kurds. It is a vast region, washed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In the map is the territory indicated with the yellow color; the thin lines are the borders between the four countries that divide this territory.
The Kurds are a very ancient population, they have their own language and traditions. The Kurdish language derives from the Iranian strain of Indo-European languages and over the centuries, losing the original linguistic unity, has given rise to two different main languages, Kurmanji and Sorani, and several dialects (Ananias, 2005). In addition, they are a close-knit people who have always suffered from being separated and not having their own government. In addition, they have often been persecuted and many of them, millions of people, live abroad, for example in different Euro-pean countries. In the 7th century AD they were conquered by the Arabs and converted to the Is-lamic religion. In the 16th century most of Kurdistan was annexed to the Ottoman, i.e. Turkish, empire, while a part was conquered by Persia (present-day Iran).
In the 19th century, the Kurds began to fight for their independence, but all their revolts were sup-pressed by the Ottomans. When the First World War ended at the beginning of the last century, the Kurds hoped to obtain their own state. One of the principles of the winning powers (Great Britain, France, Russia) was in fact the self-determination of peoples: this means that each people had the right to decide for themselves, for their own territory, their own government and their own future.
The situation of the Kurdish people today is not very different from the past. But even today, whole peoples are suffering, dreaming and fighting for their freedom, for the affirmation of their rights, to be able to exercise their inalienable right to preserve their culture, to speak their lan-guage, to enjoy and have their memories enjoyed; in a word, they are fighting to affirm respect for their identity. The affirmation of one's specificity in the 21st century is not directed against any-one, but is part of the multicultural sphere and offers the rest of the world its diversity as a com-pletion and enrichment of a set of differences that help prevent the financialization of the world from reaching a desperate homogenization.
In my research I not only focus on the history of the Kurdish population but I also try to address the causes that led to the "Kurdish Diaspora" and how relevant the Kurdish issue is internationally, I also aim to read the so-called Kurdish issue from the critical perspective of the theories of "new wars”(Kaldor, 1999) giving a new reading using the theories of "state of emergency” (Agamben, 2003) and “biopolitics" (Foucault, 1978) applying these theories to empirical cases.
A part of my study, therefore, focuses on the presence of the Kurdish community in Finland and the objective of my research will be to understand the level of integration that Kurds have achieved in Finland, of course I will try to obtain as much information as possible through a series of interviews that I propose to administer to a sample of members of the Kurdish community living mainly in Lapland and in the Central area of Finland.
This blog entry was written as an assignment for the course TUKO1111 Writing in English, offered on a regular basis by the Graduate School of the University of Lapland.