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The mobilisation of the tribal Kurds under the PKK : how the Kurds of Turkey were revitalised

Ozcan, Ali Kemal (2002) The mobilisation of the tribal Kurds under the PKK : how the Kurds of Turkey were revitalised. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86047) (KAR id:86047)


This study attempts to analyse the internal dynamics of the most recent Kurdish resistance movement in Turkey. The main focus of analysis is the PKK's organisational existence - its ideational and material structure. As the leading entity of the Kurdish movement, the research focuses on the PKK's recent growth - asking how it became capable of revitalising the "buried" body of Kurdishness in Anatolia that has been incorporated (in both demographic and geographical terms) into the Turkicized Republic. Within the framework of the case study method, much of the research is devoted to answering an indirect question: why wasn't it the other Kurdish "national" configurations that came to prominence? To this end, the study tries to appraise the extent of national and non-national ingredients in the make-up of the movement - the leadership, the grassroots and the masses that give their support. The conclusion reached is that the successes and failures of the PKK in bringing about Kurdish opposition in Turkey are fundamentally related to its philosophy of recruitment and organisational diligence, rather than to its scrupulous use of arms or other contextual factors. The form, content and intensity of educational activities give the organisation its strength. This "education war" - concomitant with the contextual tension of Turkey's Kurdish question - produced a "sparking" Apo charisma. In its originating period, the "pure form" of this charisma contributed much to the PKK's ability to mobilise the Kurds. The later "routinised" form of the very charisma has become one of the principal determinants in what is known as the movement's "shrinkage process". It was also found that the substance of the party education - mainly involving Öcalan's talks - embodies a philosophy of human nature (rather than a strictly nationalistic content) in search of the re-appropriation of "human naturalness". In the party leadership's view, this human naturalness has to be extricated from the plague of civilisation's property mechanisms, which apparently have degenerated the humane faculties of man's spiritual structure. However, it ought not to be understood that the intensively worded philosophy depicts the extent of such extrication in the personalities of the cadre body of the Organisation. And the field research indicates that this is the Party's greatest internal contradiction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86047
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Kurdish resistance movement
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:26 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 10:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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