Territorial Control and Minority Reforms: A Study of the Kurdish Borderlands in Turkey
This study seeks to explain the failure of the Kurdish Opening in Turkey. I theorize that an important, hitherto largely ignored, factor in explaining this failure is the state’s policy of territorial control, which has existed in parallel to the reform processes and peace talks. More specifically, I argue that territorial control is a key factor in explaining why minority policy reform failed to achieve its goals and hence, violence returned. For this analysis, I develop a typology of territorial control, which juxtaposes the lived experiences of people living alongside five forms of territorial control, identified as: expulsion and expropriation, securitization, border control, administrative control (right-sizing and gerrymandering) and nationalizing the landscape. My observation and documentation of the mechanisms and experiences of territorial control and the peace process are based on semi-structured in-depth interviews and participant observation during extensive fieldwork in conflict-ridden borderlands. This study reveals that the successes and failures of state strategy toward a minority population cannot be understood without an analysis of both state policies and people’s experiences. This study achieves a unique perspective that incorporates people’s perceptions and sentiments with theoretical and analytical premises.