Guide Ethnicity, Identity, and the Development of Nationalism in Iran

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This may account for the fact that China established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in August , with the first direct Sino-Saudi exchanges taking place since Saudi Arabia canceled its long-standing diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and withdrew its ambassador, despite a lucrative trade history. In the face of a long-term friendship with Iraq, China went along with most of the UN resolutions in the war against Iraq.

Kundrecensioner

Although it abstained from Resolution on supporting the ground-war, making it unlikely that Chinese workers will be welcomed back into Kuwait, China enjoys a fairly "Teflon" reputation in the Middle East as an untarnished source of low-grade weaponry and cheap reliable labor. Recent press accounts have noted an increase in China's exportation of military hardware to the Middle East since the Gulf War,. Unlike Tibet, China can thus ill afford to ignore its Muslim problem. Yet Chinese authorities are correct that increasing international attention to the plight of indigenous border peoples have put pressure on the regions, with even the German government calling for more human rights in Tibet following a June visit of the Dalai Lama.

In Amsterdam, on June 2nd, Amnesty International supporters passed out fliers in Damme Square calling for the release of Kajikhumar Shabdan, a year-old ethnic Kazakh, poet, writer, and radio broadcaster, who has been held in prison since July Clearly, with Xinjiang representing the last Muslim region under communism, Chinese authorities have more to be concerned about than just international support for Tibetan independence.

The real question is, why call attention to these Tibetan and Muslim activities and external organizations now? The Istanbul-based groups have existed since the s, and the Dalai Lama has been active since his exile in Separatist actions have taken place on a small but regular basis se the expansion of market and trade policies in China, and with the opening of six overland gateways to Xinjiang in addition to the trans-Eurasian railway since , there seems to be no chance of closing up shop.

In his visit to the newly independent nations of Central Asia, Li Peng called for the opening of a "new Silk Road". This was a clear attempt to calm fears in the newly established Central Asian States over Chinese expansionism, as was the April Shanghai communique that solidified existing Sino-Central Asian. This was perhaps the most recent and clearest example of Chinese government efforts to finally keep hold and fully map its "geo-body". Sub-Altem Separatism and Chinese Response. China's geo-body is not threatened by internal dismemberment.

Such as they are, China's separatists are small in number, poorly equipped, loosely linked, and vastly out-gunned by the People's Liberation Army and People's Police. Local support for separatist activities, particularly in Xinjiang, is ambivalent and ambiguous at best, given the economic disparity between these regions and their foreign neighbors, which are generally much poorer and in some cases such as Tadjikistan, riven by civil war.

Memories in the region are strong of mass starvation and widespread destruction during the Sino-Japanese and civil war in the first half of this century, not to mention the chaotic horrors of the Cultural Revolution.


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International support for Tibetan causes has done little to shake Beijing's gron the region. Many ethnic leaders are simply calling for "real" autonomy according to Chinese law for the five Autonomous Regions that are each led by First Party Secretaries who are all Han Chinese controlled by Beijing. Extending the "Strike Hard" campaign to Xinjiang, Wang Lequan, the Party Secretary for Xinjiang, recently declared: "there will be no compromise between us and the separatists".

Beijing's official publicization of the separatist issue may have more to do with domestic politics than any real internal or external threat. Recent moves suggest efforts to promote Chinese nationalism as a "unifying ideology" that will prove more attractive than communism and more manageable than capitalism.

By highlighting separatist threats and externintervention, China can divert attention away from its own domestic instabilities of rising inflation, increased income disparity, displaced "floating populations", Hong Kong reunification, and the post-Deng succession. Perhaps nationalism will be thely "unifying ideology" left to a Chinese nation that has begun to distance itself from Communism, as it has Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism in the past. As Bruce Kapferer has noted, nationalism "makes the political religious".

This is perhaps why regiously-based nationalisms, like Islamic Fundamentalism and Tibetan Buddhism, are targeted by Beijing. At the same time, a firm lid on Muslim activism in China. In a July interview with Iran's former ambassador to China in Tehran, I was told that Iran would never intervene in a Muslim crackdown in China, despite its support for the tring of Kubrawiyyah Sufi Imams from Gansu and close foreign relations with China.

Any event, domestic and international, can be used as an excuse to promote nationalist goals, the building of a new unifying ideology. Any action deemed by Beijing to be "unpatriotic" is quickly interpreted as an attempt to split the country, which runs counter to Chinese efforts at reunification of its entire geo-body. Hong Kong becomes the first example of the attainment of China's historic destiny, with islands such as the Spratleys and Diaoyutai, to say nothing of Taiwan, arded as impediments to national development and physical reunion. Conclusion : China's Expanding Internal Colonialism.

In his recent visit to the U. The entire Chinese history shows that whoever splits the motherland will end up condemned by history". In a Science and Technology Daily editorial, published May 17 , Song Jian stated that the project's goal was to demonstrates its 6, year "unbroken, unilineal" development. The project, to be completed by October 1, , clearly will take a dim view of anyone accused of separatism.

As long as Muslim activism is regarded as "separatism", it will be regarded not only as going against China's national destiny, but against history itself. It is through the writing and re-writing of history that colonial and sub-altern status most often becomes internalized, both among the minorities and among the majority. This "internalized colonialism" lead to self and other-perception as.

It also displaces indigenous prior claims to land and voice in the administration of local affairs. Future prospects for the Uyghur in the 21st century may be low considering the proclivity of Chinese historiographers to write histories from the perspective of their "idealized" view. The Uyghur are in danger of being written out!

Azerbaijani Ethno-nationalism: A Danger Signal for Iran

This scenario was already pre-figured by the science fiction novelist David Wingrove in his eight volume futuristic novel, Chung Kuo The Middle Kingdom. Once the Chinese have taken over the globe in the later 21st century, they re-write history, dating back to the first Chinese "conquest" of Central Asia in the Han dynasty. It sometimes seemed as if half the films ever made had been about Pan Chao! He was the great hero of Chung Kuo-the soldier turned diplomat turned conqueror. Over the next twenty-four years, by bluff and cunning and sheer force of personality, Pan Chao had brought the whole of Asia under Han domination.

The Persistent Boundaries of Kurdish Nationalism

The rest was history, known to every schoolboy. Rome had fallen. And not as Kim had portrayed it, to Alaric and the Goths in the fifth century, but to the Han in the first. There had been no break in order, no decline into darkness. No Dark Ages and no Christianity -of, and what lovely idea that was : organized religion! The thought of it. In his version of events, Han science had stagnated by the fourth century A. Ah, and that too. Not Chung Kuo. Kim called it China. As if had been named after the First Emperor's people, the Ch'in. He strugged.

The nationalist re-writing of history, Prasenjit Duara reminds us, is not unique to China, but accompanies nationalist projects around the globe. The threat of this re-writing is not to China's neighbors, for they do not belong to a nationalist history of China's past or future geo-body. Rather, the rise in nationalist rhetoric in China may have the greatest implications for its internal colonial others, it sub-altern subjects. And, one should not forget the ominous words contained in the Chinese national anthem : "The Chinese race is at a most crucial moment, we should stand up and build up a new Great Wall with our blood and flesh".

But this is a misleading oversimplification that needs to be laid to rest forever. In spite of what is shown in modern historical atlases, the T'ang, like its predecessors, never had any clearly defined and demarcated northern frontier There was never a continuous defensive line or a defined frontier. There was a line of fortified border prefectures and counties, a few fortresses in strategic places, and a scattering of military colonies, military stud farms, beacon signal towers, and military picket-outposts. It was a defense in depth The real question is, what will happen to those Chinese citizens on its borders, should a nationalist movement rise up that sees them as more of a threat than as part of a China that is multi-national and multi-ethnic.

If nationalist sentiments prevail during this time of transition, what will happen to those sub-altern subjects currently living in China, but beyond the Great Wall? References Cited. Anderson, Benedict. London: Verso Press. As this study will demonstrate, although state control over Baluch minorities increased during the Reza Shah period, Dozdab and Baluchistan remained a hotly contested frontier where both nomadic and settled inhabitants took advantage of the shaky control of the colonial Indian and Iranian governments.

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Established at the end of World War II, the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad epitomized Kurdish nationalism and over the years has received ample scholarly attention. While all Iranian Kurds certainly articulated a sense of belonging to Iran, however, there existed an undeniable divide between Shiite and Sunni Kurds.

Kurdistan, on the other hand, serving as the organ of the Republic of Mahabad and presided over by an educated Sunni notable of Mahabad, propagated a more restricted conception of the Kurds and Kurdistan. Ultimately, Kurds agreed upon a certain kinship with their Iranian brethren; but with political autonomy at stake, Sunni Kurds articulated their identity rather differently than Shiite Kurds. This paper fills this gap in our knowledge of the nuanced and complex relationship of Kurds to each other and to Iran during the Mahabad Republic.

In the Jewish Agency envoy in Tehran wrote back to the Jerusalem headquarters a short letter stating that the situation in Iran is hopeless for the Zionist organization. Paradoxically, those were fascinating years for the Jewish population in Iran. During that time Jews began to climb up the social ladder, leave the Jewish quarters and integrate into Iranian society. They enjoyed religious and political freedoms that Iran had offered since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ascended to throne in What was it, then, that caused such discomfort to the Zionist envoy in ? My paper analyzes the relationship between the Zionist and the Jewish Iranian identities in Iran during the Pahlavi era, from documents of a myriad of Jewish and Zionist organizations, and Iranian writings on this topic.

Unlike the Arab Jewish communities, the Iranians did not flee en masse after the establishment of the State of Israel, and their approach to Zionism was ambivalent.


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While they sympathized with the Zionist cause, and celebrated the establishment of a Jewish homeland, they felt better than ever before regarding their chances to flourish and succeed in Iran, which in turn strengthened their Iranian national identity. As a result, the majority of the community stayed in their Iranian homeland. The historic events of transformed both Iranian as well as Afghan society and politics—leading to the migration of millions of Afghans to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Instead of consolidating into one umbrella party, and later two, as they did in Iraq, Kurdish nationalists in Turkey -- many of who had become disfranchised peasants and members of the poor working class -- fragmented across the political spectrum. Some mobilized alongside numerous Turkish leftist parties.

Kern on Shatzmiller, 'Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies'

Others turned to clandestine, radical Kurdish parties, including the Partiye Karkaren Kurdistane PKK , which engaged in violence against the state. Still other Kurds who had become part of the capitalist landowning class backed conservative Turkish parties. The Turkish state also co-opted traditional Kurdish groups and poor communities through Islamic enterprises and charitable organizations. Consequently, in contrast to Iraq, the Kurdish nationalism that emerged in Turkey was more a complex, highly ethnicized and illegal movement led by urban leftist leaders, and consistently hostile to the state.

In Iran, Kurdish nationalism became salient much later than in Turkey and in a less violent manner. This difference is due to a more inclusive political space that initially emphasized shared cultural ties between Kurds and Persians -- more than half of Iranian Kurds are Shiite -- and recognized a Kurdish ethnicity as part of Iranian identity, while repressing Kurdish nationalists and banning their organizations.

Even though Shah Reza Pahlavi looked to Ataturk as a state-building model, his effort to secularize and modernize Iran was more gradual, allowing traditional socio-political structures to maintain their privileged positions, particularly in the countryside. Like in Iraq and Turkey, Iranian prohibitions against Kurdish nationalists kept their elites and organizations underground or tied to leftist parties, particularly during the democratization movement of the s. Similarly, as the state became increasingly exclusionary and repressive under Shah Mohammed Pahlavi , Kurdish nationalism became ethnicized and turned to violence.

Still, the Kurdish movement in Iran was kept weak and ineffective by ongoing authoritarianism under successive post-revolution theocratic governments, the absence of Kurdish nationalist elites most of whom were assassinated , shared Kurdish-Persian cultural ties, some levels of Kurdish political representation in Tehran and internal fragmentation.

Ethnic Identity and the Power of Being Undefined - Anish Shroff - TEDxFargo

By , Iranian Kurdish parties, including Komala Iran and the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran, were operating in crossborder camps in Iraqi Kurdistan but remained at odds with one another. In Syria, the state engaged in similar policies that sought to control and co-opt the Kurds. It refused citizenship to thousands of Kurds and delegitimized Kurdish organizations and their elites, which dampened the potential of any Kurdish nationalist movement that might have emerged.

Similarly, the emergence of Arab Baathist nationalism created a secularized and ethnically exclusionary state that gave rise to Kurdish ethno-nationalism, just as in Baathist Iraq, Kemalist Turkey and Iran under the last shah. Yet, successive Syrian regimes also assimilated certain Kurdish communities into both society and state institutions.

These tactics, combined with a smaller Kurdish community that represents only 8 percent of the population and is more geographically dispersed throughout the country, created a quieter and less organized movement fragmented between urban leftists and traditional communities. These distinct political spaces also prevented uniformity in nationalist movements over time. For instance, when Kurdish nationalists and religious sheikhs were revolting in Turkey from to , Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Syria were largely silent.

When Iranian Kurds established their Republic of Mahabad in in the political vacuum that followed World War II, most Kurdish nationalists in Turkey were either imprisoned, operating underground or allied with urban Turkish leftists. This is not to say that Kurdish groups have not attempted to consolidate their national interests across borders. Cultural and family exchanges, shaped by shared dialects and localities, overlap with these cross-border linkages. Syrian Kurds for instance, maintain close relations with fellow Kermanji-speakers in Turkey and comprise about one-third of the PKK.

The PKK, in turn, has become the most transnational of all Kurdish parties. With its networks now extending across four states, it calls for universal Kurdish rights and Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, often through violent means. Still, the presence of territorial boundaries, divide-and-rule policies and intra-Kurdish divisions has kept the nationalist projects distinct. In fact, Kurdish elites in each state have often allied with regional states against each other to protect their own tribal, ideological and politically defined nationalist interests.

In part these strategies reflect geographical and economic constraints, especially for the landlocked Kurdistan region of Iraq. Highly dependent upon open borders and external patronage for revenue, Iraqi Kurdish leaders have brokered deals with governments in the region that required compromising their own nationalist goals, as well as those of their ethnic brethren across borders.

For instance, during the s, when Iraqi Kurdistan was placed under a double embargo and 85 percent of its revenues were tied to smuggling activities at the Turkish border, Iraqi Kurdish leaders negotiated security agreements with Ankara targeting the PKK in exchange for an open border. The two Iraqi Kurdish parties also maintained offices in Damascus for decades with the tacit agreement of the Assad regime and its security apparatus.

This support secured Iraqi Kurdish party interests while keeping Syrian Kurdish nationalism in check. External Patronage Networks If distinct political spaces have contained Kurdish nationalism, external patronage has helped expand it across borders. Throughout Europe, where most of the 1 million members of the Kurdish diaspora communities live today, institutions such as the Navend center in Bonn and the Institute Kurde in Paris actively promote pan-Kurdish national rights.

Open democratic environments in the diaspora, as well as in cyberspace, have enabled Kurdish nationalists to advance their claims through social media, lobbying, publications and social activism.


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  7. Some of the most active representatives of Kurdish transnationalism are diaspora Kurdish youth, who remain committed to their distinct Kurdish identity alongside their identities as citizens of the various host countries.