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The Kurds and the State
Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran

Denise Natali

Cloth $29.95s    |    0-8156-3084-0    |   2005

A timely book that analyzes the formation of Kurdish national identity from the late Imperial period to the present.

The Kurds and the State has been selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2006.

"A sophisticated analysis of state-building policies and their consequences on national-identity formation. Specifically, it shows how the development of Kurdayeti—‘Kurdish national identity’ or ‘Kurdish nationalism’—has been more complex and subtle than merely opposition and struggle between the Kurds and the states in which they live. . . . Natali also amasses an impressive array of political, economic, social, and cultural facts, which she integrates into various interpretative explanations for what has occurred. . . . An important, sophisticated work that goes far beyond many lesser studies and will be read with benefit by all scholars and others interested in the Kurdish problem. The author is to be congratulated for her major contribution."
Middle East Journal

"Because of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the issue of the future direction of Kurdish nationalism is now embedded firmly in US domestic and foreign policies. This is the first comprehensive analysis of the development of Kurdayeti, or Kurdish identity and nationalism, across the 20th century, with some prognostications of further development during the first decatdes of the 21st century. It replaces David McDowall’s A Modern History of the Kurds (1996) in terms of its analytical depth and comparative power. It is also a timely and welcome study, as transnational Kurdish movements are now the most important domestic and foreign policies issues in Iraq and Turkey-with Iran not far behind. Natali (Univ. of Salahadin, Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq) argues that some kind of federative system in Iraq (now evolving) and in Turkey is necessary to lessen the violence and potential for civil war and thus impede Kurdish demands for independence. This book is highly recommended for all readers interested in current affairs in the Middle East. It would make an ideal text for courses not just on Kurdish history and politics, but on the entire 20th century history and politics of the Middle East. Summing Up: Essential. Comprehensive collections, upper-division undergraduate and above."

In tracing the evolution of Kurdish nationalism, Denise Natali shows that, contrary to popular theories, there is nothing natural or fixed about Kurdish identity or the configuration that Kurdish nationalism assumes. Rather, Kurdish nationalism has been shaped by the development of nation-states in the region. Although Kurdish communities have maintained some shared sense of Kurdishness, Kurdayeti (the mobilization of Kurdish identity) is interwoven with a much larger series of identities within the "political space" of each Kurdish group. Different notions of inclusion and exclusion have modified the political and cultural opportunities of Kurds to express their ethnic identities, and opening the possibility of assuming alternative identities over time.

With this book Natali makes a significant contribution to theoretical, empirical, and policy-based scholarship on the Middle East, the plight of the Kurds, ethnonationalism, and ethnopolitical conflict. Hers is the first comparative work to examine Kurdish nationalism as a function of diverse political spaces. As a vital addition to the literature in the field, this book will supplant a number of standard texts on the Kurds.

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Denise Natali is a lecturer and member of the research team at the Centre for Law and Politics at the University of Salahadin, Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.

6 x 9, 272 pages, 7 blackand-white photographs, glossary, notes, works cited, index

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