Middle East Studies

Dilan Okcuoglu – Contested Borders and Sovereignty at the Margins of Turkey

event poster

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St.

What does Turkey’s Kurdish borderlands lay out in terms of the relationship between the state and Kurds? Dilan Okcuoglu will address this question, with an emphasis on the question of territorial control and its lived experiences. Going beyond state-centric views of control, she proposes the bottom-up view of territorial control and explores its local repercussions, based on in-depth single-case analysis that builds upon her fieldwork in the Turkish cities of Van and Hakkari, located along the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran and predominantly inhabited by Kurds. 

In this talk, Dr. Okcuoglu will go beyond the limits of theory and the role of geography and natural resources on the rise and durability of civil wars, developing an empirically-driven approach, which is the bottom-up view of territorial control. This approach integrates analysis of interview data from twelve months of fieldwork in the Kurdish borderlands while the peace process was still in place, offering data to identify and classify mechanisms of territorial control that macro-level analyses are unable to provide. By expanding on preexisting literature and examining the relationship between a peace process and territorial control in a divided setting, she applies the literature’s theories to the specific territorial context of the Kurdish borderlands of Turkey. In doing so, this talk will offer intriguing discussions on territorial control and engage with further debates on the complex relationship between people, states and territory in border zones.

Organized by Meltem Toksoz, visiting associate professor of history and Middle East studies.

Kurdish Project

Dilan Okcuoglu is a postdoctoral fellow in Global Kurdish Studies at the American University in Washington, DC. Before that, she was a visiting scholar at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. She was also affiliated with the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2018-2019. She received her PhD and MA in political studies from Queen’s University in Canada. 

Dr. Okcuoglu has an interdisciplinary background in politics, economics and philosophy. Her teaching and research interests are primarily in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, conflict and peace studies, comparative territorial and border politics, democratization, ethnic politics and nationalism as well as state-minority relations in conflict zones. She has already published articles and book chapters and is currently working on her book project.