In their past, the Kurds have faced many hardships, ranging from the denial of their ethnic identity and their hopes of building a nation state, to violations of their human rights, severe acts of punishment, as well as persecution, forced migration, deportation, and acts of genocide and ethnocide. All these are crucial aspects for the shaping of Kurdish history, self-awareness identity processes and belonging. This project aims to explore memory-building processes in the Kurdish transnation, which includes the Kurds in the different nation states of their homelands, as well as Kurdish diasporic and transnational communities. The dynamics of both remembering and forgetting the past will be investigated in an innovative manner.
The hypothesis of this project is that today’s experience of the past in the Kurdish transnation has not only been shaped by the different kinds of political exclusions, persecutions and human rights violations that the Kurds have experienced, but also by intra-ethnic cultural diversity, internal power relations, and their integration into different states. Due to new communication technologies, it seems that new ways of dealing with the past are in the making, resulting in various impacts on the Kurdish transnation in general and on individuals in particular. The project will explore the differences, commonalities and dynamics of memory-building in the Kurdish homelands and diasporas, which not only involve strategies of coping with the past but are interlinked with identity-building processes in general. It is the aim of the project to trace the ways that remembering and forgetting have developed using a descriptive, a phenomenological, and a comparative approach. The project explores the long-term effects of mass violence in Kurdish society, in its inter-generational relations, and in intra- and inter-ethnic processes. The application of anthropological methods helps to examine these effects in both the original and subsequent generations, and to achieve new insights into how violent experiences are coped with. A comparative approach enables a view of the general direction of the long-term impact of these events on this society. Three cases have been chosen for the investigation: the persecution of the Yezidi Kurds during WWI, the mass atrocities against the Alevi Kurds in Dersim 1937/38, and the Anfal Operations (1988/89) against the Kurds in Iraq. The focus on different sub-groups and time-frames enables the analysis of memory-building processes in different temporalities, territorial settings in political discourses and social frameworks. The application of multiple methodological approaches, namely, intensive archive studies, multi-sited anthropological fieldwork, and comparisons within and between trans-national spaces, will shed new light on the dynamics and strategies of modes of remembrance, as well as the intersections in and interrelatedness between memoryscapes in multiple modernities.

Project leader:
Maria Six-Hohenbalken

01.05.2013 - 31.12.2023

Elise Richter Projekt (FWF), core-funding