‘Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective,’ By Bahar Başer
The Kurdish diaspora in Europe has been relatively overlooked in the academic field and the number of scholarly works is limited, compared to the millions-strong population of this community in Western European countries. The notable works on this subject (such as Martin van Bruinessen, Östen Wahlbeck, Christopher Houston, Ann-Catrin Emanuelsson4 and Andy Curtis, among others) are generally focused on either Kurdish nationalism or the Kurdish identity.
Turkish scholars’ interest in the Kurdish diaspora (or in all Kurdistan-related subjects, for that matter) has been curbed by Turkey’s unwillingness to freely discuss the issue and academic works on the subject have been heavily discouraged, if not prevented. In this context, Bahar Başer’s “Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective” is valuable not only as a double-comparison between the Kurdish and Turkish diasporas in Germany and Sweden but also appears to be an interesting read as a Turkish scholar’s bold take on this delicate issue. Başer’s work distinguishes itself from similar research by its scope, which envelops the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas in an interconnected and conflictual context and also the policies of Sweden and Germany on multicultural issues and how these affect the organizational patterns of diasporas.
It should be noted that while defining her research focus, Başer takes only political organizations into account. This may come across as limited because the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas are known to be identity-based, notably based on religion and being from the same town/village of origin (hemşerilik in Turkish). The lack of these organizations in the book restricts its scope considerably; however, the political realm of the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas in Europe are accurately and sufficiently reflected. Given the limited number of works on the issue, further research covering these aforementioned identities and organizations is much needed. Başer’s work neither attempts nor is obliged to go beyond its original focus to portray a broader image of the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas.
Başer’s principal research questions are: (1) How the Turkish and Kurdish diasporas in Sweden and Germany are affected by the conflict; (2) in what ways the contentions of the first generation are inherited and interpreted by subsequent generations; and (3) how hostlands’ immigration policies affect those diasporas. These questions successfully define the “multilayeredness” of the issue and the diasporas themselves and provide an adequate scope on how the conflict will be treated through the research. One possible criticism at this point could be the lack of political organizations in the research questions, given that the research depends heavily on these
WHILE DEFINING HER RESEARCH FOCUS, BAŞER TAKES ONLY POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS INTO ACCOUNT