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Civil Society and the Transformation of Turkey’s Kurdish Question


This article explores the multilayered characteristics of civil society involvement in Turkey’s Kurdish question. It examines the role and impact of Turkish and Kurdish civil society organizations (CSOs) in the conflict in terms of securitizing, holding and desecuritizing activities. It presents a comprehensive analysis of the identities, strategies and actions of these CSOs, as well as of the political opportunity structure in which they operate, including time-contingent factors, the domestic institutional and sociopolitical environment, and the involvement of external actors such as the EU. Despite increasing civil society involvement, Turkey’s Kurdish question is still strongly shaped by the nature of the Turkish state and the manner in which it has responded to the Kurdish nationalist challenge. Whereas the specificities of the Turkish state have moulded the Kurdish nationalist challenge, the latter — and particularly the actions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — have further fuelled the securitizing discourse of the Turkish state establishment, fundamentally shaping and constraining the environment in which civil society operates.

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