The Field Of Struggle for State Power to Understand Of Ethnic Group in the Southeast Turkey
The Kurdish community is a minority group living in Turkey. They are believed to be the largest ethnic group that are not recognized by any state. Because of this reason, they have been involved in a continuous struggle with the government of Turkey. They have been fighting for the right to be recognized and appreciated by the Turkish government (Kaya, 2011, p.15). This paper will give an insight look into the causes behind the struggle in relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field.
Pierre Bourdieu was a sociologist, philosopher, and anthropologist from France. He was born on August 1930 and died on January 2002. Bourdieu was the first scholar to come up with terminologies such as habitus, symbolic capital, symbolic violence, cultural, and social. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field can be used to explain the struggle of the Kurdish for recognition in Turkey. Bourdieu explains that, in a society, the field is a setup in which agents and their social positions are situated. The position of every agent in the field is a consequence of the interaction between the particular rules of the field, agent’s capital, and agent’s habitus. In the field, as agents interact with each other, there arises hierarchies where there will be the powerful and the subordinate. Unlike Marxism, Bourdieu argues that a society cannot be evaluated by ideologies and economic classes. His explanations lay emphasis on cultural factors and education as factors that integrate the society (field). Bourdieu says that the field is a social arena where individuals manoeuvre and struggle for what they desire. This explanation can be used to account for struggle of the Kurdish community with the government of Turkey for recognition.
The history of the Kurds starts back in the 7th century. In that era, they were defeated by the Arabs and ethnic groups. In the 13th and 15th century they were defeated by the Seljuk Turks, the Safavid Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Their final defeat by the Ottoman rule made them very angry, and they formed a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. They struggled for their independence as they wanted to be a free community. The fact that Turkey lost in the First World War propelled them to fight for their liberation. Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, was also for the liberation of all the minority groups in Turkey. In 1919, in a Paris Peace conference, the Kurdish communities forwarded their claims that they wanted to be free from the Ottoman Empire. In 1920, the Treaty of Serves was formed, and it saw the demolition of the Ottoman Empire (Goodman & Silverstein, 2009, p.145). The treaty also stated the Kurdish communities as free and had their own state. Three years later, another treaty was formed which overlapped the Treaty of Serves. It was referred to as the Treaty of Lausanne. It was superior to the Treaty of Serves. The Treaty of Lausanne did not mention the establishment of free Kurdish state. The Kurdish communities, therefore, remained to be a subordinate community to the Turkish community.
The enactment of the Treaty of Lausanne by the government of Turkey led to several revolts by the Kurdish communities. The Turkish government also took all the measures to ensure that the Kurdish communities never succeeded with their revolts and never got their independence. The PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) was formed by the Kurdish communities, and their agenda was to push for their independence and establishment of Kurdish state. The effect of the Kurdish revolt was felt majorly in the Southern region of Turkey where guerrilla wars and terrorist attacks were executed by the Kurdish communities against the government of Turkey. The war in the southern region of Turkey represents the struggle that has been going on in the entire country. The government of Turkey has been suppressing the rights of the minority communities in the country. These minority groups have been revolting against the government of Turkey and this interaction between the Kurdish communities and the Turkey government can be analysed using Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field.
According to Bourdieu, in a social setup with human beings, there will be people with varied beliefs and cultural practices. Bourdieu says that the field is a social arena where the varied individuals manoeuvre and struggle for what they desire (Gunes, 2013, p.54). Turkey is an example of a field which contains several communities. The different communities have different beliefs and cultures. As these communities interact, there arise hierarchies where some communities are in top class and have power, while others are the subordinate communities. There are several factors which determine the social status of the community. Economic status is a major determinant of the level of social class a community will belong to. The poor socioeconomic status of the Kurdish communities makes them be in the low social class. This means that they have no power. The number of community members also determines the position of the community in the field. A community with a huge number of people is powerful and influential in the field. The number of people who belong to the Kurdish communities is low. This makes them not influential in Turkey.
In Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field, in any social setup, the participant parties will have social positions. These position will be structured in terms of the power relationships. The field is a social arena in which the present parties struggle to be in the top positions. Bourdieu explains that fields are organized both horizontally and vertically. The vertical organization is based on the power of the participants. Powerful participants will be located in the top positions whereas the weak ones will be in the low strata. The horizontal organization is based on the numbers of each participating group. If a group or community has a large number of members, then it is in a better position in the field, as compared to that group which has few members. In the modern fields, however, the number of members the group has does not have a huge influence on the position of the group in the field.
The Kurdish communities are agents in the field, Turkey. Like any other communities, they have cultures which define them from the rest of the communities. As agents in the field, they struggle to be in the top position in the system. They fight for recognition at the national level of the country. The Turkish government, on the other hand, continue to suppress their rights as a minority group in the country. In this struggle, the Turkish government is an agent at a better position in the field that the Kurdish communities. First, the Turkish community is backed up by a strong economic position.
The Kurdish communities are poor and marginalized in the field, Turkey. The good economic status gives the Turkish government more power than the Kurdish communities. Second the low number of the people in the Kurdish communities puts them at a disadvantaged position in the field. The Kurdish people constitute approximately 18% of the total country’s population. This figure is a very small one and makes the government has an easy time in suppressing them. Finally, the Kurdish communities are not united. The several number of Kurdish communities do not work as a team and are not a force to reckon with. The government of Turkey expressed their view that the unity of all the Kurdish communities in Turkey can be a potential threat to the stability of the country. This means that if all the Kurdish communities would come as one to fight for their freedom against the Turkish government then the impact would be more than what it is when they are not united. In the struggle for independence, the Kurdish is at a disadvantaged position because of their poverty, low number and disintegration.
Research shows that a good number of the Kurds are aware of their identity. They spread across different countries which include Turkey, Armenia, Syria, and Iraq. However, they lack an independent state which they can identify it as their home. This lack of “home” is the reason behind the struggle between the Kurdish communities and the Turkish government. This struggle has gone to the extent of guerrilla war and terrorism attacks which has led to human displacement and loss of human lives. The main reason behind the war is the denial of the Kurdish people to enjoy their religion and culture. The Kurdish people continue to fight for their independence, identity, and recognition in Turkey.
Turkey is a country with different religions and tribes. For instance, the country is the home of Alvis, Ezidis, Assyrians, Armenians, Turks, and Kurds. With all these different cultures, and languages, the country does not appreciate its diversity. Instead, it is in a constant struggle with the minority group. The Kurdish communities, which are the major minority groups in Turkey, retaliate against the government for marginalizing and suppressing them. The government has been violating the agreement of protecting minority groups in the country. In 1923, the Turkish government adopted the Treaty of Lausanne. This treaty was supposed to protect the rights of the minority groups. However, the government of Turkey has gone against the treaty and limited its scope to counted minority groups such as the Jews and the Rum Christians. Several other minority groups including Kurdish communities have been left out of the protection by the Treaty. This has left these minority groups bitter and has made them fought for their rights of recognition in the country.
According to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of Habitus, a society will always have values, dispositions, lifestyle, and expectation which result from their daily experiences and activities in life. The Kurds have their way of life. Bourdieu added that this way of life of a defined group of people like the Kurds usually results from their history and what they can remember. People are born and taught their way of life by their parents. They will in turn teach their children what they were taught by their parents so that the culture goes down the generations of the society. In addition to living according to the taught way of life, it is the responsibility of each member of the society to protect their culture. The Kurdish people have a culture to pass down to their coming generation, and each one of them is expected to protect it. Therefore, according to Hegelian account, they will struggle to be recognized in the state of Turkey
The Turkish government has failed to identify the Kurds in the national constitution. It has denied the Kurds independence like the other cultures in the country and around the globe. For instance, the Turkish government the Kurds the rights to communicate using their vernacular language in public places. It has also denied them the rights to carry out some cultural practices. As a result, people of the Kurd culture feel like their culture is fading away. Therefore, to protect their culture, people of the Kurd community resort to use violence as a way of struggling with the Turkish government.
In 2010, the Middle East experienced a large ancient ethnic conflict between the Kurdish communities and the government of Turkey. Since then the struggle between the two parties has been on and off. The Turkish government has taken all the possible measures to contain the situation. The Kurdish communities, on the other hand, have shown no signs of giving up until they get their freedom and recognition (Yildiz & Breau, 2010, p.47). The Kurdish communities have a distinct way of life but the government of Turkey has failed to recognize and identify them. Instead, they have been suppressing them as a minority group in the country. One of the clearest evidence that shows the discrimination against the minority group by the government is the restriction of the use of Kurdish languages in public places such as health and education institutions and the media. This is one of the ways the Turkish government has used in its effort to kill the Kurdish communities. Responding to such actions by the government, Kurdish communities formed social movements and did what they could to make their identity public. These Kurdish social movements have the main agenda of fighting for the rights of the Kurdish communities. They want the Turkish government to identify the Kurdish communities in the national constitution. The social movements also led to the emergence of political movements that want independent states for the Kurdish communities. Some scholars have stated that, retaliation of the Kurdish communities is the most severe internal problem the government of Turkey has faced in the history of the country. Studies also show that this retaliation is the country’s main hindrance to full integration of some institutions in other European countries with Turkey. Most countries in Europe believe that the issue about Turkey and the Kurdish communities is a typical example of oppression of minority groups.
Among the several ethnic groups found in Turkey, the Kurdish communities are one of the few groups which have been able to maintain their culture amidst rapid urbanization. This is attributed to the respect they have for their culture and traditions. Even with a strong opposition from the government of Turkey, The Kurdish communities have been able to keep up with their way of life. There are a number of facts that show that the Kurdish communities are among the few communities that have been able to hold on to their culture in Turkey. First, Kurdish communities form the largest number of people cannot speak Turkish in Turkey. Second, their settlement is located furthest from the country’s administration. Their areas of settlement have been inaccessible for a long period of time. They do not go and mingle with the rest of the people in the country. Finally, they are indigenous to the country and not immigrants. The likelihood of them abandoning their culture is very minimal even with pressure the government is exerting on them. The Kurdish people have a strong identity, and this motivates them to fight for recognition by the government of Turkey.
The core reason for the revolt of the minority groups is the fact that they want to get recognized in the state of Turkey. They want their identity and culture respected and safeguarded by the national constitution of Turkey. According to Hegel’s concept, recognition is the process which individuals go through a subjective crisis that relates to self-understanding when they meet other individuals for the first time. Individuals will always want to dominate other people for fear of losing their culture to that of the other people. When two groups of different cultures meet, there arises a struggle to dominate and to protect their cultures. The triumphant group usually becomes the master and the lost group becomes the slave. The masters protect their culture and dominate over the others. On the other hand, the slaves lose their culture to the dominant group, and they have to comply with the elements of consciousness of the dominant group.
The Hegelian account of recognition explains the situation in turkey (Toews, 1985, p.1805). There is a struggle between Turkey and the Kurds. These groups have different cultures which resulted to their conflict. Each of them wanted to dominate and protect its culture. The Turkish is the dominant group and are superior to the Kurds. Therefore, the Turkish claim recognition from the Kurds. The Kurds, on the other hand, retaliate and was to sustain their culture and way of doing things. They do not want to be assimilated into the Turkish culture and have their own fade away. For there to be a peaceful co-existence, it is important for the master group to recognize and appreciate the existence of a minority group. In as much as the Turkish community is the superior one, there will be a continued struggle between it and the Kurds. A mutual recognition of each other is the only way to end the struggle between the two groups
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