Synopses & Reviews
Kurdistan provides an introduction to and a succinct history of the idea of Kurdistan, the imagined homeland of the Kurds. Christopher Houston examines the historiography, ethnography, and changing political status of the Kurdish regions vis-
Houston (anthropology, Macquarie Univ., Australia) examines the historiography, cultural anthropology, and changing political status of Kurds in the regions of modern-day Turkey (his primary focus area), Iran, and Iraq. He writes about the genesis, context, and content of Kurdish ethnic and national discourse in these areas, and he notes that the act of imagining Turkish, Persian, and Arab identities forms a context for analyzing the Kurds' changing identities. Despite, and perhaps because of, the already large literature on Kurds in past and present times, Houston finds new ways to look at the processes of secularism, modernization, nationalism, and Islamism in this area and how these processes have affected Kurdish identities. He usefully critiques other authors, particularly anthropologists. While other writers have tended to focus on rural Kurds, Houston is also interested in urban Kurds and the ways former and current regimes in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq have handled such populations there. The author says he cannot discuss the situation of Kurds in Iraq since the wars there in 1991 and 2003-8. He includes a helpful bibliography of a range of sources, including some in Turkish. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students/faculty. --CHOICE L. Beck, Washington University, Saint Louis, July 2009
"Why do so many writings about Kurds or on the Kurdish situation demonstrate the urgent necessity of recollecting and affirming a historic continuity? The answer is clearly linked to the foundational practices of nation--building and state formation in the Middle East after the First World War, as well as to their constant re--enactment by elites thereafter as key political resources in the present. This book brings these two processes together, the production of knowledge about Kurds and the ceaseless instituting of the nation by the regional states of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey." --from the introduction Indiana University Press Indiana University Press
"... Houston finds new ways to look at the processes of secularism, modernization, nationalism, and Islamism in this area and how these processes have affected Kurdish identities. He usefully critiques other authors, particularly anthropologists.... He includes a helpful bibliography of a range of sources, including some in Turkish.... Recommended." --Choice, July 2009 Indiana University Press Indiana University Press
"... Kurdish identities are forged, sometimes in connection with the other and sometimes, as in southeastern Turkey, in isolation." --Robert Olson, University of Kentucky, American Historical Review, June 2009
A concise history of the idea of Kurdistan
About the Author
Christopher Houston is Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation-State.
Table of Contents
One Nationalizing Origins: Imagining the Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan (1)
Two 'Set aside from the Pen and Cut off from the Foot': Imagining the Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan (2)
Three Representing Kurds: A Brief History of Kurds and Kurdistan in Ethnography
Four Kemalism and the Crafting of National Selves in Kurdistan
Five Kurdish Inhabitation of the 'Kemalist City'