Margins of Allegiance and Revolt: Relations between Kurdish Tribes and the State from the Late Ottoman Period to the Early Modern Republic


  • Yalçın Çakmak Munzur University, Tunceli, Turkey
  • Tuncay Şur École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris, France



Kurdish, tribes, allegiance, revolt, Ottoman


The political and social interaction between the Ottoman Empire and Kurdish tribes, which can be traced back to the first quarter of the 16th century, continued until the modern republic with various continuities and ruptures. This multi-dimensional and complex relationship was neither in the form of absolute loyalty to the sultan, and thus to the Islamic caliph on a religious basis, nor a constant revolt against the authority of the empire in order to preserve their autonomy. Until the beginning of the 20th century, tribes were not only structures used by the Ottoman, Safavid, and Russian empires for their own interests. They were also organizations capable of dominating a certain geographical area and had a vital potential to constantly generate violence and extend it to the empires and even between one another. Contrary to the state, which systematically and regularly perpetrated this violence and institutionalized and justified itself through the monopoly of violence, their inability to do so did not necessarily mean that they were not genuine political organizations and did not have their own agenda. This study, conducted largely in light of archival documents and Ottoman primary sources, aims to examine the boundaries of loyalty and rebellion in the oscillating relationship between Kurdish tribes and the Turkish state.


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Focus (2): Geopolitical Shifts and Ethnic Conflicts: The Transnational Kurdish Conflict in the Contemporary Middle East