Kurdish transformative politics in Turkey

Rosa Burç


This article discusses the transformative potential of Turkey’s pro-democracy movement which has emerged out of a long history of Kurdish political struggle. It looks at the development of a two-fold strategy that understands internal transformation as a precondition for democratic transition in Turkey. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been the most recent iteration of this strategic and ideological reconfiguration. Built on in-depth interviews with key movement actors, this article examines (1) the historical context out of which the HDP materialized, (2) the politics introduced as democratic autonomy, (3) the transformative potential of the party’s women’s politics, (4) the limits of debates on “Türkiyelileşme,” and (5) the role of the non-Kurdish opposition. Assessing the opportunities and impasses, I argue that, despite the recent state-orchestrated clampdown on Kurdish politics and its sites of articulation, Kurdish transformative politics remain a key asset for democratic transition in Turkey, though facing internal and external challenges.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/719163