“The Turkish society is undergoing rapid modernisation but the country’s internal conflicts just don’t seem to subside,” says Pekka Sulkunen, Professor of Sociology.
His article on Turkey’s Kurdish Question was recently published in Telos, a US academic journal.
In the article, Sulkunen proposes that the conflicts between Turkey and its Kurdish minority result from both sides’ inability to handle difference.
Autonomy and difference are vital to democracy
According to Sulkunen, the Kurds’ situation resembles that of the republican nation-states born in the early 20th century.
“In the Nordic countries, democratisation also called for unity, which led to violence and oppression,” he points out.
The contemporary Turkish state is about the same age as Finland.
The contemporary Turkish state is about the same age as Finland, but in most European nation-states, the quest for unity had waned by the early 1980s.
Turkey has yet to complete its nation-building process, which has been slowed down by both the Islamic hegemony and the official republican state ideology. What is more, the Kurds’ political organisation ignores their internal differences, which has resulted in violence and repeated threats of dictatorship.
Theory of modernisation for contemporary problems
Sulkunen lists several necessary steps to improve the position of Kurds, such as eliminating the paramilitary village guards, allowing the existence of political parties, and extending the right to use one’s language.
Young Turks have adopted the codes of individual autonomy and personal integrity.
However, the Kurdish Question will not be resolved until the demand for unity eases in the Turkish society. Luckily, young Turks have adopted the codes of individual autonomy and personal integrity.
“My analysis resembles Erik Allardt’s theory of modernisation, which is well suited to the interpretation of contemporary problems,” says Sulkunen. “Turkey is an extreme example of problems that may, sooner or later, also face European societies.”