Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (4-5):406-418 (2016)

The modern republican history of Turkey and its relation with the question of ethnic diversity could be understood via the tension between the processes of system integration and social integration. This article, based on Jürgen Habermas’ conceptual framework, draws the sources of such tension with reference to the Kurdish identity in Turkey since the early republican era. For this purpose, from the 1920s to the 2000s, policies and discourses of system integration aiming at a certain degree of ethnic homogenization to eliminate ‘possible threats’ to territorial integrity and national unity are discussed in detail. While system integration processes reflect an exclusionary and assimilative-securitist logic of state practices regarding the Kurdish question, this article argues that the Kurdish challenge to republicanism and to its system integration logic promises more for the dynamics of social integration. Especially since the 1990s, while processes of system integration are still in force; national, regional and diasporic achievements of Kurdish politics and its call for a democratic transformation of the republic based on decentralist, participatory and multiculturalist values have become much more visible. This new focus on democratic transformation demands more for social integration through internalization of roles as well as through promotion of an active communication between citizens by raising the claims of active participation to social and political spheres as well as by making identity visible in different aspects of socio-cultural life. Degree of social integration and its success vis-à-vis system integration will be decisive in the democratic transformation of Turkey in the future
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DOI 10.1177/0191453715623832
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