Cavernous politics: Geopower, territory, and the Kurdish question in Turkey

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Abstract

This article expands upon recent attempts to shift focus to the material and earthly aspects of power to explore territorial politics and state power in Turkey's Kurdish-populated southeast or Turkish Kurdistan. It focuses on the limestone caves scattered along the Upper Tigris Valley as a locus of geopower, examining the sociopolitical life of limestone caves in relation to the environmental geographies of oil extraction, development, and counterinsurgency. Examining three historical segments where the limestone caves of the Upper Tigris Valley have become objects of the Turkish state's attempts to govern Kurds and territorialize Turkish Kurdistan, this paper demonstrates the shifting configurations of geopower in Turkey vis-à-vis the Kurdish Question. As geological formations fundamental to the Turkish state's attempts to exert and secure territorial power, the caves of the Upper Tigris Valley have also been central to the ways in which Kurds in Turkey have attempted to unsettle state power and territorial politics. Surveying the workings of geopower through caves in Turkish Kurdistan, the article reveals the uneven and violent ways in which geological formations are entangled with hegemonic territorial politics and counter-hegemonic politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102331
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume85
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Coloniality
  • Environmental politics
  • Geological formations
  • Geopower
  • Kurdish question
  • Oil extraction
  • Territorialization
  • Territory
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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