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Maps into nations: Kurdistan, Kurdish Nationalism and international society

Kaya, Zeynep (2012) Maps into nations: Kurdistan, Kurdish Nationalism and international society. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores how Kurdish nationalists generate sympathy and support for their ethnically-defined claims to territory and self-determination in international society and among would-be nationals. It combines conceptual and theoretical insights from the field of IR and studies on nationalism, and focuses on national identity, sub-state groups and international norms. In so doing, this thesis presents a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the self-determination claims of sub-state nationalist groups and their interaction with international society. Such assertions for the control of a specific territory typically embrace, either implicitly or explicitly, ethnic conceptions of national identity. A three-fold argument is proposed and developed to explain why these ethnic claims to self-determination gain sympathy and support. Firstly, political assertions regarding the identity of a specific piece of land and its cartographical depictions are powerful in influencing outsiders’ perceptions because of the normative context in which they are framed. The norms related to sub-state nationalist groups involve both a specific interpretation of self-determination and the norms of human rights and democracy. Secondly, such claims are further reinforced by the perception that the history of a territory is identical to the history of the people living on it. Although a political association between a people and a territory is a relatively novel link, such associations are often assumed and accepted to exist throughout all of history. Kurdish nationalists use the maps of Kurdistan effectively to convey the message. Finally, the diasporal activities of nationalists who, thanks to their location outside the homeland and their ability to communicate their ideas directly to international society, play an important role in asserting the rightfulness of their demand for self-determination and in promoting the idea of an ethnic territory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Zeynep Kaya
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Sidel, John T. and Halliday, Fred

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