Talk: “Does the Accommodation of Ethnic Demands Lead to Ethnic Moderation or Escalation” by Dr. Zeki Sarigil, Department of Political Science
Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 12:30 p.m.
FEASS Building, A-130
Many studies argue that accommodative policies by the state would lead to ethnic moderation and so facilitate ethnic conflict resolution. Turkey’s Kurdish conflict, however, constitutes a puzzling case for the accommodation hypothesis. Until the early 2000s, the Turkish state responded the Kurdish issue with rather repressive measures. However, beginning in the early 2000s, the state softened its attitude and granted several unprecedented cultural rights to Kurds and adopted a strategy of political engagement with the Kurdish ethnopolitical movement. Did this reform process (2001-2015) result in the moderation or radicalization of Kurdish ethnonationalism? Using multiple data sources, this study shows that the reform process led to escalation rather than moderation. Why? This study argues that accommodation hypothesis ignores the role of transnational factors and influences, in particular contagion effect. This study shows that contagious factors and mechanisms such as the demonstration and spillover effect of Kurdish empowerment in adjacent countries (e.g. Iraq and Syria) and the hegemonic competition against co-ethnic groups and movements across national borders have constrained the effect of partial accommodation and so led to conflict escalation. Thus, the Kurdish case evidences that contagion effect might complicate the nexus between accommodation and moderation.
Zeki Sarigil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Bilkent University. His research interests include ethnicity, ethnonationalism, civil-military relations and institutional theory (e.g. institutional change, path dependence, informal institutions). He has published articles in such journals as European Political Science Review, European Journal of International Relations, Nations and Nationalism, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Armed Forces & Society, and South European Society and Politics. Dr. Sarigil has received scholarships, grants and awards from various institutions, including Fulbright, TUBITAK and Science Academy of Turkey. He spent the 2014-2015 academic year at Princeton University as Fulbright Visiting Scholar.