Performing Strategic Identities and Citizenship: Kurdish Diaspora and Transnationality Online
This project examines the Kurdish diaspora in Europe and its use of computer mediated communication and how it contributes to the formation of a Kurdish identity. The aim of this work is to contribute to the ongoing discourse on diaspora, identity, and ‘new’ media by examining how diasporic communities use the Internet (CMC) to negotiate their identity and gain visibility and recognition in the public sphere. Previous researchers (van Bruinessen, 2000; Curtis, 2005) concluded that Kurdish identity has been reinforced by the second and third generation Kurds who are presently growing up in Europe. Simultaneously, other research on Internet technology (Eriksen, 2006; Miller and Slater, 2000; Franklin, 2004) found that the use of the Internet often strengthens national identity and that it can be particularly efficient in reproducing identities across distances and uniting scattered populations in virtual communities because it can exploit time and space completely. The Internet is rapidly becoming a major medium for consolidation and definition of collective identities, especially in the absence of a fixed territorial and institutional base. On that basis, the Kurdish diaspora has begun to play an increasingly important role in the internationalisation of the ‘Kurdish Question’ and in placing it on the European agenda. With the development of information and communication technologies (ICT), the process of constructing the Kurdish identity in a transnational context has changed character because roots and descent are not only a personal question but also a political performance involving how we act and are allowed to act. Beside the internalisation of the Kurdish question on this macro level, Kurdish identity making has, on a micro level, implicit and explicit connections to matters of citizenship, minority policies and the politics of representation. The formation of identities both occurs in everyday life and relates to issues of citizenship and transnationalism. The Kurdish escape from what can be considered colonial rules to different European countries has not diminished the struggle of identity. As ‘Mountain Turks’ and ‘Umayyad Arab’, the Kurds are identified as either ‘The people without a country’, ‘victims’ or have been labelled with prefixes such as ‘Swedish-Kurds’ or ‘German-Kurds’. The literature has introduced many ‘overly-theorised’ and vague abstractions about the diaspora. Furthermore, the existing academic literature is fluid in identifying not only the term diaspora itself but also the constitution of the diaspora. Not only is the Kurdish diaspora being subsumed under the heading ‘Turkish speaking community’, which negates their visibility in the public sphere but also they are geographically bounded in terms of living and activity patterns.