Reflections on Kurdish Politics

Friday, November 20, 2020 noon to 1:30 p.m.

We want to dedicate this event in memory of Dr. Najmaldin O. Karim, who passed away the last week. Dr. Karim was the former Governor of Kirkuk, Iraq, neurosurgeon in the state of Washington where he also founded the Washington Kurdish Institute. KPSP exists thanks to his vision and endless support.


Dr. Güneş Murat Tezcür, Jalal Talabani Chair & Professor at University of Central Florida moderates the event introduced by Dr. Kerstin Hamann, Pegasus Professor & SPSIA Director at University of Central Florida.

Dr. Mesut Yeğen, Professor at the Department of Sociology, will talk about "Ethnopolitics to Geopolitics: Turkish State and the Kurdish Question since 2015." In his talk, Dr. Yeğen will discuss the way in which the Turkish state has engaged in the Kurdish question in Turkey and how this change may be understood as a transition from ethnopolitics to geopolitics. The argument is that while the Turkish state traditionally coped with the Kurdish question by means of conventional instruments of ethnopolitics stretching from assimilation to recognition until 2015, some new instruments targeting the administration of geography and population in Iraq and Syria began to be used by the Turkish state in order to be able to cope with the Kurdish question in Turkey.

Dr. Michiel Leezenberg, Professor at University of Amsterdam, will give the talk "Beyond Oil: The Political Economy of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq." He analyses the developments in the Kurdistan region of Iraq where the economy usually receives little if any attention; when economic factors are discussed, the focus generally lies with oil extraction, to the exclusion of other sectors. In this contribution, Dr. Leezenberg argues that this neglect is precisely one of the main stumbling blocks for a better understanding of local dynamics. The regional political economy is characterized not only by a near-total lack of transparency; there are also several structural features that have hindered the (re-)emergence of local agriculture and manufacture, despite a number of valiant efforts to rehabilitate the local productive economy since the early 1990s. He will discuss how these structural features have developed since Baathist times, and how they constrain the prospects for political independence.


The event sponsored by the Kurdish Political Studies Program and it is held virtually, via Zoom. Registration is not required:

Meeting ID: 956 2236 0009 

Passcode: 913678

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Sara Belligoni


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