A Resurgence of Kurdish Studies Research

By Dr.Amir Sharifi:

The 48th Annual  Middle East Studies Association of North America in Washington DC

Not long ago Kurdish scholars were lamenting the lack of scholarly research about Kurds and Kurdistan and calling on all to initiate and foster much needed multi-disciplinary research. At last Kurdish Studies is emerging as a topic of high interest. Such an insight has borne fruit as more scholars young and old and institutions devote more time and resources to launch productive and innovative research projects.

Kurdish and non-Kurdish scholars from different disciplines converged and shined in the 48th annual Middle East Studies Association, held in Washington DC from November 22-25. This year’s conference reflects and portends a bright future for Kurdish Studies which in the past was at best an understudied and at worst an unexamined field.  Kurdish Studies has at last found its rightful place and left behind a time of apathy when Kurdish studies was a taboo and unaspiring topic even  to Kurdish scholars. This year we witnessed an unprecedented surge of interest in a now highly motivated research about Kurds and Kurdistan. Through 8 panels from multiple disciplines, more than 37 papers were presented to scholars and students of Middle East Studies. Refer to the link below for details about the panels and presenters, including panels sponsored by the Kurdish Studies Association:


Each panel consisted of four to five speakers who spoke about a variety of topics, including Kurds and the changing Middle East political map, displacement and negotiating linguistic and religious identity , language rights and activism, the Kurdish language, memory, diaspora, immigration and Kurdishness, social movements, nation building , Kobani, Kurdish imagination, Syria and Iraq crisis and Kurds, and women Dengbijs. At least three of these panels had been sponsored by the Kurdish Studies Association in which Christian Sinclair played an important role. Prior to this year’s annual conference, the Kurdish Studies Association (KSA) had held a meeting in which many members and non-members attended. KSA in this well attended meeting outlined its plans and reviewed its progress. KSA also announced its plans to generate funds to promote its study abroad program, a book award initiative, and a graduate student award. Two guest speakers – Mehmet Yüksel, HDP representative in Washington, and Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Washington-based journalist – provided informative updates on the peace process and Kobani respectively. The meeting was followed with a reception in a local restaurant where the conference attendees mingled and learned about each other’s domains of work. We welcome the evolution and resurgence of innovative research in unexplored and uninvestigated areas and congratulate all those who are cultivating a new culture of research in Kurdish Studies everywhere.

Dr.Amir Sharifi: President of the Kurdish American Education Society

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