UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethnonationalism in contemporary context : shifting discourses of pro-Kurdish nationalism in Turkey Morriss, Sarah


This thesis is concerned with identity driven non-state actors in international politics. Recent social movement scholarship, including work on ethnic groups and conflict, has legitimized non-state actors in world politics, through a reexamination of nationalism, ethnicity, ethnic conflict, and violence. This approach links comparative and international politics. By identifying the nature and role of nationalism in its current context, this paper addresses some of the ways in which the ethnicity-nationalism link has been misconstrued by work on ethnic conflict and violence. Although nationalism gives ethnicity a political direction, it is necessary to understand the discourses that are created during this process. I argue that sustained attention needs to be paid to the form and dynamics of ethnonationalism in the contemporary context, using a discursive approach. Examining the narrativizing structures embedded within nationalist movements would help to advance our understanding of contemporary ethnonationalisms, accounting for intra-group fractionalization and conflict. The case of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey will be used to examine how treating nationalist movements as a violent conflict motivated primarily by ethnicity and ethnic identities reifies ethnonationalist movements, treating them as unproblematically homogeneous. By adopting a discursive approach in an examination of contemporary ethnonationalist movements such as the Kurds in Turkey, this thesis facilitates the development of a more nuanced and insightful analysis of the role and function of nationalism today.

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