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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 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.
Special Issue: Alevi Kurds: History, Politics and Identity | Guest edited by Umit Cetin, Celia Jenkins, and Suavi Aydın | EDITORIAL: Alevi Kurds: History, Politics and Identity by Umit Cetin, Celia Jenkins, and Suavi Aydın | Politics and Identity in Alevi Kurds: An Interview with Martin van Bruinessen by Umit Cetin, Celia Jenkins, and Suavi Aydın | A Survey of the Roots and History of Kurdish Alevism: What are the Divergences and Convergences between Kurdish Alevi Groups inTurkey? by Suavi Aydın | Reflections on the 19th Century Missionary Reports as Sources for the History of the (Kurdish) Kizilbash by Ayfer Karakaya-Stump | Political Representation of Alevi Kurds in Turkey: Historical Trends and Main Transformations by Cengiz Gunes | The Struggle to Make Diaspora Alevis Companion with Working Class: Alevism in Kavga / Kervan Magazine by Tuncay Bilecen | Diasporic Homeland, Rise of Identity and New Traditionalism: The Case of the British Alevi Festival by Cemal Salman | Language Attitudes and Religion: Kurdish Alevis in the UK by Birgul Yilmaz | “Aspirational Capital” and Transformations in First-Generation Alevi-Kurdish Parents’ Involvement with Their Children’s Education in theUK by Celia Jenkins | Unregulated Desires: Anomie, the “Rainbow Underclass” and Second-Generation Alevi Kurdish Gangs in London by Umit Cetin | Book Reviews
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.
Until recently the importance of religion in the modern world has often been underestimated in Western societies, whereas its significance is absolutely crucial in the Middle East. Religion is critical to a sense of belonging for communities and nations, and can be a force for unity or division. This is the case for the Alevis, an ethnic and religious community that constitutes approximately 20% of the Turkish population – its second largest religious group. In the current crisis in the Middle East, the heightened religious tensions between Sunnis, Shias and Alawites raise questions about who the Alevis are and where they stand in this conflict. With an ambiguous relationship to Islam, historically Alevis have been treated as a ‘suspect community’ in Turkey and recently, whilst distinct from Alawites, have sympathised with the Assad regime’s secular orientation. The chapters in this book analyse different aspects of Alevi identity in relation to religion, politics, culture, education and national identity, drawing on specialist research in the field. The approach is interdisciplinary and contributes to wider debates concerning ethnicity, religion, migration and trans/national identity within and across ethno-religious boundaries. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the National Identities journal.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century was crucial for the development of Kurdish nationalism. It coincided with the reign of Abdulhamid II (1876-1909), who emphasized Pan-Islamic policies in order to strengthen the Ottoman Empire against European and Russian imperialism, The Pan-Islamic doctrines of the Ottoman Empire enabled sheikhs (religious leaders) from Sheikh Ubaydallah of Nehri in the 1870s and 1880s to Sheikh Said in the 1920s-to become the principal nationalist leaders of the Kurds. This represented a new development in Middle Eastern and Islamic history and began an important historical pattern in the Middle East long before the emergence of the religiousnationalist leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. This is the first work in any Western language dealing with the development of Kurdish nationalism during this period and is supported with documentation not previously utilized, principally from the Public Record Office in Great Britain. In addition, the author provides much new material on Turkish, Armenian, Iranian, and Arab history and new insights into Turkish-Armenian relations during the most crucial era of the history of these two peoples.
This work is based on an expert group meeting, 19-20 November, 1999, Virginia.

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