Middle East Studies

Zeynep Gönen

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Framingham State University

Displacement, Racism and Criminalization: The Case of Kurdish Youth in Izmir

After being displaced from their homes, villages, and lands during the 1980s and 1990s, many Kurds in Turkey have sought new lives in the big cities of western Turkey. Izmir was one of the destinations for the displaced Kurds. Yet, rather than providing them with security and opportunity, the inequalities and violence Kurdish migrants faced continued at their new locations, albeit in new forms. This paper examines how these new forms of structural and discursive violence have marginalized Kurdish youth. It also tries to understand how the displacement and marginalization, along with the racializing discourses about Kurdish people, has produced young and poor Kurdish men’s criminalization. Drawing upon two sources – the crime discourses of the Turkish mainstream media, and an ethnographic study of the policing in a Kurdish shantytown in Izmir  this paper seeks to look at and understand the relationship between displacement, racism and criminalization as experienced by young Kurdish men.

Zeynep Gönen is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Framingham State University, and a member of Izmir Solidarity Academy. She received her PhD in sociology from Binghamton University in 2011. Her work focuses on the subjects of law, punishment, policing and criminalization from a global and historical comparative perspective.