Convince me you exist. An analysis of The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) court files
The end of empires and the rise of nation-states have transformed the way politics and societies operate and the modern sense of these changes, transformations, events, and situations. Language, culture, and memory are essential pillars of the nation-states’ projects of creating a new society. The modern form of government, the nation-state, use history not only as a means of transmission but also as a means of building identity and memory. This study examines the case files of three critical names in the Kurdish movement and the history-based debates in their trials. By applying discourse analysis, we have shown how the Turkish state and The Kurdish Workers’ Party used history as a tool to “prove” and “disprove” the existence of Kurds, the Kurdish language, and Kurdistan. While the judges imposed an evidence-based approach to history and denied the existence of Kurds, Kurdish and Kurdistan, the PKK members opposed the official thesis of the state and built their arguments more on the day-to-day realities of life. The study’s main argument is that the official ideology uses history to prove and convey a message to the rest of society, whereas the defendants used it as a means of protest depending on the historical reality rather than history as a science. This study discusses that by using science to make examples of these members, the judges used history to prove the Kurds’ non-existence, whereas the defendants implied history as a way of protesting the ruling authority.
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