Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

The Rise and Fall of Political Movements in the Late 19th Century and First Half of 20th Century Kurdistan (an Organisational Analysis)

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

The Rise and Fall of Political Movements in the Late 19th Century and First Half of 20th Century Kurdistan (an Organisational Analysis)

Article excerpt


Kurdological literature has been mainly limited to mere historical descriptive discussions characterized by descriptive story telling about personal/private aspects of Kurdish political chiefs. This study tries to provide a new sociological analysis based on synthetic organizational model to examine the process and structure of political movement-making and the causes of their failure in all around Kurdistan in the late 19th century and first half of 20th century. Four organizational theories are employed in this paper: contingency, institutional, population ecology and resource dependency theories. In order to analyse the rise and demise of political movement-making in the late 19th century and first half of 20th century Kurdistan Macro level factors including exogenous factors i.e. the super-powers and central governments, Meso level factors containing socio-economic factors such as tribal-feudalism, regionalism and religion, and Micro Level factors composed of illiteracy and cultural poverty were analysed through aforementioned organizational theories. Our fundamental finding is that the endogenous and exogenous factors have mutually caused the rise and demise of political movement-making. But exogenous factors were the final determinant in shaping, reshaping, directing and finally collapsing on Kurdish movements. Finally it should be asserted that neither exogenous factors nor Endogenous factors were able to meet Kurdish political requirements; exogenous forces were temporal determinants that played their role according to their own economic and political logic and endogenous forces such as tribal-feudalism, regionalism and religion wasted political potential in challenging with the central governments.

Key words: Contemporary Kurdistan; Kurdish movements; Political movements; Organisational analysis


Despite the fact that many studies have been conducted about the Kurdish society and culture in comparison with other ethnic groups in Iran and Middle East, most of socio-cultural and economic structures of this ethnicity still remain vague and unexplained. The dominant issue in these studies has been political nature and dynamics as if the Kurds have been the naturally bom political. Both outsiders and insiders have ignored the other non-political aspects. The outsiders' studies have focused on when and how the Kurdish political movement developed while the most of insiders concentrated on the history of Kurdish kings and religious aspects.

Most researchers, who have worked on Kurdish political structure, in recent decades, have been outsiders who are not familiar with Kurdish society and culture. They have written about Kurdish society with political orientations. Their writings evolve around the tales and narratives of political rebels' history and story telling about Kurdish political leaders. We can classify most of them into political history that does not reflect significant debates or results. Most outside researchers have engaged in research without using first hand findings or direct observations of Kurdish culture. Even some of them are repetitive documentary laden with political data. The purpose of this paper is not to underestimate these works. Of course, these raw materials could be articulated and analysed by the various perspectives, but they cannot be viewed as representative of Kurdish Society and culture. Undoubtedly, outsider works have presented a distorted and ambiguous image of Kurdish culture, which cannot help, unless to be explained and refined thorough taking new approaches and comparing them with other studies.

Our critique focuses on internal or endogenous studies as well. These studies are mostly as same as the external or exogenous studies. Most of the internal studies have also been descriptive, narrative and purely historical and have had shortcomings similar to external ones. In addition, religious and court men did these studies and were writing about the religious, feudal-tribal issues or sovereignty of Kurdish kings. …

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