Güneş Murat Tezcür and Mehmet Gurses, 2017. "Ethnic Exclusion and Mobilization: The Kurdish Conflict in Turkey," Comparative Politics 49(2).

Why does ethnicity become politically salient and the basis of mobilization for some members of a disadvantaged group but not for others? This article suggests that members of a disadvantaged ethnic group are unlikely to support ethnic mobilization as long as they perceive the challenges of personal mobility in the political system open. It builds upon an original dataset of biographical information of 2,952 governors, ministers, and judges in Turkey. The results show that support for Kurdish ethno-mobilization and recruitment into the Kurdish insurgency remain low in Kurdish localities with greater representation in the echelons of political power. This finding supports institutional approach to the study of ethnicity and demonstrates the importance of state recruitment patterns in shaping the political saliency of ethnic identity.  


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2015. Electoral Behavior in Civil Wars: The Kurdish Conflict in Turkey,”  Civil Wars 17(1): 70-88.

This study analyzes the effects of political violence on electoral behavior by focusing on one of the longest lasting ethnic conflicts in contemporary times, the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. How do armed conflict and electoral institutions shape turnout in a civil war context? Building on an original dataset at the sub-national level, the study reaches two major conclusions. First, it shows rural displacement caused by political violence led to lower levels of turnout and severely hampered access to voting controlling for a wide range of socioeconomic and electoral system variables. Second, an unusually high electoral threshold aggravated this pattern of disenfranchisement and limited the avenues of nonviolent Kurdish political activism with negative implications for the resolution of the conflict.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2014. "The Ebb and Flow of Armed Conflict in Turkey: An Elusive Peace," in  Conflict, Democratization and the Kurds in the Middle East, David Romano and Mehmet Gurses eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 171-188. 

This chapter is an empirical study of the patterns of armed conflict and negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdish insurgency, the PKK with a particular focus on the developments in the post-1999 period. The evolution of the armed clashes suggests that the PKK uses violence to tool to renegotiate the terms of Turkish democracy to gain more power and rights for the Kurdish ethnic group. The AKP government's responses show that it pursues reforms to dampen public support for the insurgents and to attract Kurdish vote in its political struggles with other major actors. While the negotiations between the government and the insurgents resulted in ceasefire by early 2013, a more fragmented political environment providing Kurdish nationalists direct access to the executive power would be conducive to sustainable peace.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2013. "Prospects for the Resolution of the Kurdish Question," Insight Turkey 15(2): 69-84.

The developments in early 2013 generated expectations that the almost three decades old armed conflict between the Turkish state and PKK would eventually come to an end. This article adopts a skeptical position and identifies two principal factors that make a peaceful settlement a distant possibility. First, the current military situation is a stalemate that is not ripe for peace. The costs of the conflict remain highly tolerable for both sides. Next, huge differences separate what the Turkish government is willing to deliver and what the Kurdish insurgency is willing to accept for disarmament. In particular, the PKK has no incentive to accept disarmament and demobilization given current geopolitical dynamics conducive to Kurdish self-rule.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2010. "When Democratization Radicalizes? The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey," Journal of Peace Research 47(6): 775-789.

This article addresses a historical puzzle: Why did the insurgent PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan), which was militarily defeated, which renounced the goal of secession, and whose leader was under the custody of the Turkish state, remobilize its armed forces in a time when opportunities for the peaceful solution of the Kurdish question were unprecedented in Turkey? The PKK’s radicalization at a period of EU-induced democratization in Turkey counters the conventional argument that fostering democracy would reduce the problems of ethnic conflict. Explanations based on resource mobilization, political opportunity structures, and cognitive framing fail to provide a satisfactory answer. The article argues that democratization will not necessarily facilitate the end of violent conflict as long as it introduces competition that challenges the political hegemony of the insurgent organization over its ethnic constituency. Under the dynamics of competition, the survival of the organization necessitates radicalization rather than moderation. As long as the insurgent organization successfully recruits new militants, democratization is not a panacea to violent conflict. The findings indicate that research on the micro-level dynamics of insurgency recruitment will contribute to a better understanding of ethnic conflict management. Data come from multiple sources including ethnographic fieldwork, statistical analyses of quantitative data (i.e. spatial clustering and ecological inference), and systematic reading of original documents.


Güneş Murat Tezcür, 2009. "Kurdish Nationalism and Identity in Turkey: A Conceptual Reinterpretation," European Journal of Turkish Studies 10.

This article argues that the evolution of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey is more ambivalent and nuanced than is usually acknowledged. This claim is based on three interpretive approaches: 1) The primary actors in national politics are conceptualized as organizations, rather than as ethnic groups; 2) A boundary-making approach to ethnic identities is more promising than an insistence on an ethnic versus civic nationalism dichotomy; and 3) State-society relations are better understood in terms of a series of interactions among state actors and social actors than in terms of a global dichotomy of state and society. These three approaches may help develop answers to important questions regarding political identity in Turkey. First, why do so many Kurdish-speaking citizens fail to articulate their identity in the terms demanded by the Kurdish nationalist movement? Second, why are the electoral returns in those areas of Turkey with large numbers of Kurdish speakers not more closely correlated with the ethnic distribution of the population? Finally, why does the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) often act in ways that are inconsistent with its declared goal of defending and expanding the political and civil rights of the Kurds?