Crafting of National Selves
Christopher Houston
Distribution: U.S. and Canada
Publication date: 7/3/2008
Format: paper 248 pages
5.5 x 8.5
ISBN: 978-0-253-22050-9
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Kurdistan provides an introduction to and a succinct history of the idea of Kurdistan, the imagined homeland of the Kurds. Christopher Houston examines the historiography, ethnography, and changing political status of the Kurdish regions vis-à-vis the Ottoman and British empires, and considers the responses of Kurds to the nation-building missions of modern Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. These projects, driven by ambitious elites in the modernizing capitals of new nation-states, were accompanied by varying degrees of intolerance toward minority ethnic languages, political institutions, and regional autonomy.

Author Bio

Christopher Houston is Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney, and author of Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation-State.


"Why do so many writings about Kurds or on the Kurdish situation demonstrate the urgent necessity of recollecting and affirming a historic continuity? The answer is clearly linked to the foundational practices of nation—building and state formation in the Middle East after the First World War, as well as to their constant re—enactment by elites thereafter as key political resources in the present. This book brings these two processes together, the production of knowledge about Kurds and the ceaseless instituting of the nation by the regional states of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey." —from the introduction

". . . Houston finds new ways to look at the processes of secularism, modernization, nationalism, and Islamism in this area and how these processes have affected Kurdish identities. He usefully critiques other authors, particularly anthropologists. . . . He includes a helpful bibliography of a range of sources, including some in Turkish. . . . Recommended." —
Choice , July 2009

". . . Kurdish identities are forged, sometimes in connection with the other and sometimes, as in southeastern Turkey, in isolation." —Robert Olson, University of Kentucky,
American Historical Review , June 2009

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Table of Contents


One Nationalizing Origins: Imagining the Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan (1)

Two 'Set aside from the Pen and Cut off from the Foot': Imagining the Ottoman Empire and Kurdistan (2)

Three Representing Kurds: A Brief History of Kurds and Kurdistan in Ethnography

Four Kemalism and the Crafting of National Selves in Kurdistan

Five Kurdish Inhabitation of the 'Kemalist City'



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