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Green, red, yellow and purple: gendering the Kurdish Question in south-east Turkey

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This article discusses the role of women in the contemporary ethno-territorial struggle of Kurdish Question in Turkey. I argue that gendered development has become the primary terrain where Turkish and pro-Kurdish political groups articulate their nationalist interests. The Kürt Sorunu (Kurdish Question) – the enduring debate over the political status and rights of Turkey's Kurdish population – is Turkey's largest geopolitical challenge to date. In the last decade, Turkish government policy towards the predominantly Kurdish south-east region has shifted from military intervention to gendered and socio-economic development. Simultaneously, the popularity and growth of a formal pro-Kurdish political movement has given the campaign for Kurdish rights an institutionalized voice and stronger role in regional affairs. The primary work of both the Turkish national government and local pro-Kurdish municipality of late has focused on women. Drawing on historical analysis and participant observation of development activities, I describe the symbolic and physical role women play in the contemporary Kurdish Question. Geographically, this pointed focus on women marks a territorialization of political power upon gendered spaces of the home and neighbourhood. I describe this process of territorialization through an examination of education curriculum, neighbourhood mapping and nationalist landscapes.
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Keywords: Cuestión Kurda; Kurdish Question; Turkey; Turquía; desarrollo; development; geopolitics; geopolítica; mujeres; women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Oregon, 1251, Eugene, OR, 97403, USA

Publication date: November 26, 2015

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