Kirisci and Winrow's courageous and timely account is unquestionably the single most important study to date on the intricacies and difficulties of Turkey's Kurdish question. It covers questions of ethnicity and nationhood, provides an historical account of the problem, and suggests the different courses of action available to resolve it. The Kurdish issue in Turkey has been wide open to polemics, with some refusing to admit the very existence of the Kurds and others greatly exaggerating their numbers. This work steers clear of these pitfalls.
The authors approach their task by first drawing the conceptual borders of the Kurdish issue in Turkey. Are the Kurds a nation in their own right living within the territory controlled by another nation; or an ethnic minority within the borders of another nation? They correctly weigh in on the side of an unrecognized ethnic minority in Turkey. The authors are also on solid ground discussing the evolution of the concepts of citizenship and Turkishness during the early years of the Kemalist republic, showing how it failed to stick to its original conception of citizenship, civic. The Turkish state's insular and nationalistic construction in the 1930s would rob contemporary politicians' ability to respond to the present-day challenges posed by Kurdish activities except through the use of force. Kirisci and Winrow conclude that the military approach will not provide long-term solutions. Instead, they offer a multiculturalist solution in which different ethnic groups can share a single citizenship.
The Kurdish Question and Turkey's only shortcoming concerns the analysis of the Kurdish movement since the 1970s. In contrast to the expert treatment offered for the earlier years, the discussion of the contemporary period has a static feel to it; the dynamic interplay between the rise of Kurdish identity and international developments is missing, as are the Turkish state's policies. The study also underestimates The importance of the Kurdish parties (HEP, DEP, and HADEP) in formulating Kurdish demands.