Seda Kartal

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bonnicksen, Andrea L.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Kurds--Turkey--Ethnic identity


Since the Turkish Republic was established in 1923, the government has attempted to assimilate subordinate ethnic groups, including the Kurds, into one nation through restrictive policies. Although there have been efforts to widen cultural freedoms to Kurds and improve socio-economic conditions in the Kurdish regions recently, the legacy of the assimilation policies still linger. Scholars are undecided about how effective assimilation policies have been. One measure of their effectiveness is the level of ethnic identity felt by Kurds, with the assumption that high levels of identity indicate failure of government’s objectives to assimilate. The study evaluates the effectiveness of assimilation policies and socio-economic reforms aimed at widening the cultural freedoms and improving the region’s socio-economic conditions. The study conducts a survey of a non-random sample of 78 migrant Kurds in three provinces of Turkey to measure their level of ethnic identity. Using a model linking identity with emotions, it posits that identity can be measured by reference to the emotions – in this case the emotions of hope and anxiety. Since the sampling is non-random and the sample size is small, the results are only suggestive. They indicate, however, that hope when independently measured can suggest that high hope is associated with primarily Kurdish identity. The interaction of hope and anxiety about maintaining ethnic distinctiveness also indicates variations in Kurdish identity but the interaction of anxiety and hope about improving socio-economic status does not influence Kurdish identity. Anxiety, on the other hand, when measured independently does not explain variations in identity. While the results cannot be generalized to the population, the study points to the utility of using emotions to explain degree of Kurdish identity. It also gives insight about Kurdish attitudes about their identity and offers a measure of effectiveness of governmental policies. The findings imply that the participants’ desire to maintain their ethnic distinctiveness counteracts the government’s attempts at assimilation. The assessment of Kurds’ emotional reactions toward socio-economic reforms and assimilation policies would give insight to decision makers in government to make receptive policies that would promote tolerance to different ethnic groups.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 163-172)


vi, 190 pages




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