Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

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The left-wing Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) began its violent insurgency campaign against the Turkish state in 1984, claiming that an independent Kurdistan should exist. However, the origins of this conflict can be traced back even further – to the inception of the Turkish Republic in 1923. This thesis begins by investigating the history of how the conflict between the Kurdish and Turkish political frameworks escalated, exploring the concept of “Turkishness” as an element of a homogeneous nation-state. The paper then assesses the effects of a range of exclusionary measures adopted by the Turkish state (beyond punitive military responses in southeastern Turkey and cultural discrimination policies). Ultimately, I argue that the ruling Justice and Development Party’s recent push for a more authoritarian style of leadership under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ostracized the Kurdish population and has created a climate for Kurdish terrorist organizations, such as the PKK and TAK, to prosper and expand recruitment.