Palestinian and Kurdish nationalism: Understanding the ‘politics of the possible’

Journal article

Jensehaugen, Jørgen & Pinar Tank (2022) Palestinian and Kurdish nationalism: Understanding the ‘politics of the possible’, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 22 (3): 219–234.

Read the article here (Open Access)

This article compares the efforts of the Palestinians and the Kurds – the two largest stateless nations in the Middle East – to obtain recognition. While Kurdish movements are spread across four countries in the region – Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, with specificities dependent on the historical context and relations with the particular host state – in this article we focus on the Syrian Kurds as a contrast to the Palestinians. This is because these two communities arrive at different end-points in their national liberation projects despite sharing similar self-determination aims. These differences provide an opportunity to analyse and comment on the factors which impact on self-determination trajectories. The article examines the emancipatory potential of nationalism while simultaneously reflecting on the limitations imposed by regional dynamics and intra-group tensions. We compare the constraints faced by these two groups as non-state actors in a region shaped by the realpolitik of powerful states, recognizing that both of them – as transnational actors – in turn impact on these states as well.

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