The Emergence of Kurdism with Special Reference to the Three Kurdish Emirates within the Ottoman Empire 1800-1850
Ghalib, Sabah Abdullah
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
to enable publication of research
The aim of this thesis is to study the concept of Kurdism and its emergence in the first half of the nineteenth century. The study explores the foundations, origins and evolution of Kurdish nationalism, which has grown out of Kurdism. It focuses on the three Kurdish emirates of Soran, Botan and Baban and their relationship with the Ottomans during the first half of the nineteenth century. Warm Ottoman-Kurdish relations continued until the beginning of the New Order (Nizami Cedit) under Sultan Selim III 1789-1807 and Sultan Mahmud II 1808-1839, and the modernisation and administrative reform (known in Turkish as Tanzimat) of the empire, which took place between 1839-1876. At this time, central power was in the hands of the Sultan who abolished all local authorities in the capital and in the Ottoman provinces, including Kurdish semi-autonomous emirates. This direct rule was met by strong Kurdish resistance. From this point, the Kurds conceived of the Ottomans as the “other” whose direct rule over them was unwelcome. They resisted the Ottoman policy of centralisation and the notion of Kurdism flourished. This can be regarded as a key turning point for the development of Kurdish nationalism, reinvigorating a Kurdish consciousness in respect of politics, language and literature. Kurdish Melas (Islamic scholars), popular poets and Kurdish folkloric poets played a major role in the creation of Kurdism in the first half of the nineteenth century in Soran, Botan and Baban emirates. Kurdish writers and scholars turned to literary forms for the expressions of Kurdish cultural politics. This thesis examines a range of literary sources to consider the rule of Kurdish mirs (princes), in politics, and the position of Kurdish intellectuals in the politics of language and culture in Kurdish emirate in the first half of the nineteenth century. This study shows how identification with Kurdism had enabled the Kurds to articulate their claim to their community and their emirates. Kurdism went on to engender Kurdish nationalism, whose growth was reflected in the late nineteenth century through the Kurdish revolt of 1880 by Sheikh Ubeydullah Nehri, the establishment of the first Kurdish newspaper in 1897 and the literature of the period, and which matured further in the twentieth century.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Sudies