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The Kurdish Alevis has only recently attracted the attention of the international world. This volume achieves an understanding of the history and the contemporary situation of the Kurdish Alevis and the particular conditions where it is associated with the Kurdish identity, Alevi religion, and the history of Turkey.
The Kurds constitute the largest stateless nation in the world. Their position in Turkey attracts attention both within the country and internationally, particularly focusing on the demand for Kurdish independence. Yet since the 1990s, new Kurdish parties have formed within Turkey who have a variety of ideologies and demands that go beyond, and differ in opinion on, the question of independence. Much of the present literature on the topic looks at the Kurds of Turkey as a homogenous group with unified political demands, which over-simplifies their position within the political backdrop of Turkey. This book seeks to provide nuance and depth to the current debate on Kurdish political agency and presence in Turkey. Presently, the Kurds' political demands can be classified into four categories; democratic autonomy, their cultural rights to be granted, federalism (territorial autonomies) and independence (creation of a Kurdish nation-state). In a broad sense, these models can also be ordered into two categories; territorial political models (federalism and independence) and non-territorial political models (democratic autonomy and cultural rights). Considering the diversity within the Kurdish community - intertwinement of tribal, ethnic and national identity - and differences in their language, religion and ideology, there are several contributing factors for the emergence of the current varied political demands of Kurds. By explaining variation among the Kurds' political demands through close analysis of existing at emerging parties, this study challenges a deterministic approach to the Kurds which currently dominates the discourse.
The Alevis are a significant minority in Turkey, and now also in the countries of Western Europe. Over the past century, many of them have migrated from rural enclaves on the Anatolian plateau to the great cities of Istanbul and Ankara, and from there to the countries of the European Union. This book asks who are they? How do they construct their identities – now and in the past; in Turkey and in Europe? A range of scholars, writing from sociological, historical, socio-psychological and political perspectives, present analysis and research that shows the Alevi communities grouping and regrouping, defining and redefining – sometimes as an ethnic minority, sometimes as religious groups, sometimes around a political philosophy - contingently responding to circumstances of the Turkish Republic’s political position and to the immigration policies of Western Europe. Contributors consider Alevi roots and cultural practices in their villages of origin; the changes in identity following the migration to the gecekondu shanty towns surrounding the cities of Turkey; the changes consequent on their second diaspora to Germany, the UK, Sweden and other European countries; and the implications of European citizenship for their identity. This collection offers a new and significant contribution to the study of migration and minorities in the wider European context.
Markus Dressler tells the story of how a number of marginalized socioreligious communities, traditionally and derogatorily referred to as Kizilbas (''Redhead''), captured the attention of the late Ottoman and early Republican Turkish nationalists and were gradually integrated into the newly formulated identity of secular Turkish nationalists. In the late 1980s, the Alevis (roughly 15-20% of the population), at that time thought to be mostly assimilated into the secular Turkish mainstream, began to assert their difference as they never had before. As Dressler demonstrates, they began a revitalization and reformation of Alevi institutions and networks, demanded an end to social and institutional discrimination, and claimed recognition as a community distinct from the Sunni majority population. Both in Turkey and in countries with a significant Turkish migrant population, such as Germany, the ''Alevi question,'' which comprises matters of representation and relation to the state, as well as questions of cultural and religious location, has in the last two decades become a matter of public interest. Alevism is often assumed to be part of the Islamic tradition, although located on its margins - margins marked with indigenous terms such as Sufi and Shia, or with outside qualifiers such as 'heterodox' and 'syncretistic.' It is further assumed that Alevism is an intrinsic part of Anatolian and Turkish culture, carrying ancient Turkish heritage back beyond Anatolia and into the depths of the Central Asian Turkish past. Dressler argues that this knowledge about the Alevis, their demarcation as ''heterodox'' but Muslim, and their status as an intrinsic part of Turkish culture, is in fact much more recent. That knowledge can be traced back to the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first years of the Turkish Republic, which was the decisive period of the formation of the Turkish nation state. Dressler contends that the Turkish nationalist reading of Alevism emerged as an anti-thesis to earlier Western interpretations. Both the initial Western/Orientalist discovery of the Alevis and their re-signification by Turkish nationalists are the cornerstones of the modern genealogy of the Alevism of Turkey. It is time, according to Dressler, for the origins of the Alevis to be demythologized.
In this comprehensive history of the Kurds from the 19th century to the present day, David McDowall examines the old and new aspects of the struggle, and the failure of modern states to respond to the challenge of Kurdish nationalism.

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