Recension : Syria's Kurds. History, Politics and Society

Paru en septembre 2008, l'ouvrage de Jordi Tejel sur les Kurdes de Syrie vient de faire l'objet d'une recension par Boris James dans la Revue des Mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée. Pour ceux que le livre tenterait mais qui ont du mal avec l'anglais, ils doivent savoir, histoire de râler davantage, que le livre a été initialement écrit en français et traduit en l'anglais pour la publication, voilà voilà.

Publisher: Routledge (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0203892119
ISBN-13: 978-0203892114


This book is a decisive contribution to the study of Kurdish history in Syria since the Mandatory period (1920-1946) up to the present.

Avoiding an essentialist approach, Jordi Tejel provides fine, complex and sometimes paradoxical analysis of the articulation between tribal, local, regional, and national identities, on one hand, and the formation of a Kurdish minority awareness vis-à-vis the consolidation of Arab nationalism in Syria, on the other hand.

Using unpublished material, in particuliar concerning the Mandatory period (French records and Kurdish newspapers) and social movement theory, Tejel analyses the reason behind the Syrian "exception" within the Kurdish political sphere. In spite of the exclusion of Kurdishness from the public sphere, especially since 1963, Kurds of Syria have avoided a direct confrontation with the central power, most Kurds opting for a strategy of 'dissimulation', cultivating internally the forms of identity that challenge the official ideology. The book explores the dynamics leading to the consolidation of Kurdish minority awareness in contemporary Syria; an ongoing process that could take the form of the radicalization or even violence.

While the book offers a rigorous conceptual approach, the ethnographic material makes it a compelling read. It will not only appeal to scholars and students of the Middle East, but to those interested in history, ethnic conflicts, nationalism, social movement theories, and many other related issues.

Jordi Tejel is a Ph. D in History (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) and Sociology (École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales-EHESS Paris). He is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the EHESS, Paris. His research interests focus on nationalism in the Middle East, with a particular interest in Kurdish mobilizations in the interwar period. He is the author of several books and articles, including Le Mouvement kurde de Turquie en exil. Continuités et discontinuitées du nationalisme kurde sous le mandat francais en Syrie et au Liban (1925-1946).


A note on transliteration
List of abbreviations
Frontispiece map 1 : Kurdish enclaves in northern Syria
Frontispiece map 2 : Areas inhabited by Kurds.


1. The Kurds during the French Mandate.
Kurdish populations under the French Mandate
The mandate system and the birth of the Syrian state
The Mandate and "colonial expertise"
The Kurdish cultural movement in Syria and Lebanon
Fragmentation of the Kurdish community ; politics in Jazira

2. Syria in transition, 1946-63
Minorities under suspicion
Searching for new political horizons
The triumph of Arab nationalism and the United Arab Republic

3. The Ba'athist system and the Kurds
Ba'athism : an exception in Arab nationalism ?
The years of ideological purity (1963-70)
The years of exploitation (1970-2000)

4. The Kurdish issue and its transnational dimension
The emergence of Hafiz al-Asad's game
The fall of Saddam Husayn and the collapse of Syrian strategy

5. The Kurdish response and its margins : "dissimulation" of a hidden conflict
The Kurdish parties at the margins of the legal system
Kurdish identity at the margins of official Islam
The defense of Kurdish culture

6. The Qamishli revolt, 2004 : the marker of a new era for the Kurds in Syria
The events preceding the Kurdish upheaval
The Qamishli revolt
Toward a radicalization of ethnic divisions?




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