Hyphenated Turkishness: the plurality of lived nationhood in Turkey

Serhun Al, Daniel Karell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Is Turkish nationality one singular identity that does not permit ethnic modifiers? Or can it be understood as pluralistic, with identities nested – “hyphenated” – with Turkishness? Then, are Turkish and Kurdish identities necessarily mutually exclusive? Such questions over the boundaries of Turkishness have long been framed in the civic versus ethnic dichotomy – an approach that does not ask whether Turkish nationhood is monolithic or pluralistic. In response, this article aims to advance the public and scholarly debates over nationhood in Turkey by turning to the question of ways in which Turkishness can be hyphenated with other identity categories in Turkey, most particularly Kurdishness. First, we reframe the debate over identity by using the combinatorial approach to ethnicity to outline how Turkishness and Kurdishness can be overlapping and nested, or a hyphenated identity. Second, we draw on public opinion data to show that such a hyphenated identity is both theoretically possible and potentially salient in Turkey today. Together, these steps deconstruct the primordialist understandings of Turkishness and Kurdishness, on the one hand, and the taken-for-granted civic claims of Turkishness, on the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-164
Number of pages21
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • Kurdishness
  • Turkey
  • combinatorial approach to ethnicity
  • ethnic versus civic debate
  • national identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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