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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

EUI - The Discourse of Death in PKK´s Ideology

Awarded: NOK 2.6 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2019 - 2023

Subject Fields:

My project is still the same, and there are not many changes. I have done several interviews and developed the theory chapter. I have also prepared the method chapter and have presented a part of my analysis. The research question is: «How can, in a secular Marxist party, the discourse of death be so central? And how is this discourse understood by the members?». The organization I study in my research is PKK, the Kurdish rebel organization that is at war with the authorities in four countries in the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. PKK is interesting in this case as it is secular and has a strong Marxist background. My methodology has three parts: interview, ideology analysis and cultural analysis. To answer my research question, I had to interview PKK members who had been in guerrilla warfare and had experienced a situation where they could have died. So far I have interviewed nine PKK ex-fighters. But I plan to interview at least six more. In addition, there has been a lot of reading of the PKK's ideology as well as the Kurdish cultural texts (for example, famous novels and poetry). Theoretically, it is much clearer than last year what the project is about and how ?the discourse of death in PKK's ideology" should be approached. A more precise framework for examining the discourse of death involves using a term called "fascination for death". This term speaks of a political situation where death is embraced to achieve a political goal. This goal can be to create a new political apparatus, or to simply destroy what exists and be nihilistic. The discourse of death in PKK's ideology is thus about "fascination for death". This fascination has cultural roots and is not created by PKK, but PKK only directs it toward a specific political goal. Studying the Kurdish culture shows that people choose to die in some cases when they know that their death creates opportunities to resist injustice.

This study will attempt to explore a new cultural perception of death in a world we are so sure death is something terrible i.e. this project will study the discourse of death in a radical liberation movement. My project will bridge the gap between PKK studies and the sociology of death. I will explicate how death is understood in the PKK/PYD’s ideology, then, showing how distinguished this is from the perceptions of death presented in the sociology of death so far. My theoretical framework will be Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory since this is so well developed to understand cultural and political constructions, besides I continue developing my own concepts within discourse theory: Hegemonic Whisper and Collective Dream.


FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam