Emine Rezzan Karaman

  • Fellowship year:2014-2015
  • University: University of California at Los Angeles
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Middle East
  • Dissertation Title: Gendered Derivatives of Identity Formation in Kurdistan during the late Ottoman Empire
  • Emine Rezzan Karaman's dissertation focuses on the formation of gender roles within the context of the construction of Kurdish national identity and nationalism. These roles developed in dialogical relation to Ottoman state policies at a time when Istanbul sought to impose a new imperial identity, known as Osmanlilik/Ottomanness, on majority Kurdish regions near the Persian border. In this way, the dissertation promises a gendered reading of two dynamic processes that took place in Ottoman Kurdistan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: 1- The attempts made by Ottoman authorities to bring Kurds from a "state of savagery and nomadism" into the fold of civilization. This occurred as the Ottomans were reconstructing the socio-political life of the empire by creating new institutions. Among these institutions were tribal/local schools, a Commission of Tribes and the Immigrants and Hamidian Light Cavalry. Through these institutions the state sought to control 'disobedient Kurds', 'revolutionary Armenians', 'raiding Iranian Kurds and Armenians' and 'interfering Russian militias.' 2- The formulation of rhetorical, institutional and political strategies of Kurdish elites developed through newspapers and organizations based in Kurdistan, Istanbul, Egypt and Europe. Their aim was to exteriorize the Ottoman state and displace discourses that the state had applied to its nomadic/tribal periphery. While doing so, the dissertation pays particular attention to a third parameter-- the socio-political structure of Ottoman Kurdistan-- to discuss its role in the above-mentioned overlapping processes. She argues that the organization of nomadic, semi-nomadic and sedentary tribal life, family structures, existing gender codes and religious systems of Kurdistan not only shaped (and were shaped by) the state's policies, but that they also had constructive and constitutive roles in the formation of Kurdish national discourses. The dissertation, in this way, aims to discuss the convoluted relationships between these three parameters mainly through the use of gender-based micro-cases from various parts of Ottoman Kurdistan.