Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Construction of Kurdish Identity in the context of Globalization

A study of Kurdish satellite televisions impact on Kurdish identity Buildning
By : Siawash Goudarzi


...Etnicity in the global world is a complex phenomenon where local, national and global processes are interacting i its formation. Etnic groups have made themselves heard through media as a consequence of the globalization process. They can be seen and heard in their own language and on the basis of their own cultural context. Media, and above all, broadcasting through television, which earlier has been monopolized by nation states and actors in the free market, has become accessible for ethnic groups that previously had no power.
Kurds were among the first groups in the world that took advantage of the new mediums in order to achieve their national goals. Even though the Kurdish nationalism is much older than the globalization process, the Kurdish ethnicity has been put in a whole new context since the birth of the Kurdish satellit stations. Bearing in mind the fragmented state of kurdish groups , with different dialects and sometimes also different culture, since they live within four different states, the Kurdish channels play a large role in creating a Kurdish identity that ought to be unique for Kurds. The Kurdish satellit channels have in many regards sped up the process of creating a Kurdish identity.

The Kurds tried to create a collective cultural identiy that was going to be different from other identities (Turkish, Persian and Arabic) from afar through media, and thus creating their own identity. The Kurdish culture, music, national costumes and food, that are shown through television broadcast, is about self definition and is a clear boundary for the Kurds in that process.
The symbols that are shown by Kurdish television to maybe as many as 20 million Kurdish viewers have values associating national awareness. Kurdish satellite televisions have made a great effort to find cultural, historical and political symbols that are typical for the Kurds. The Kurdish map, flag and the national anthem are among the most important national symbols that are shown daily on the Kurdish televisions. By retelling Kurdish mythology and history they are trying to make the viewer aware of their history. This is the reason why some old traditions have become mordern and celebrated as national celebrations, and some tradegies have become national mourning ceremonies. The Kurdish identity structure is being reproduced and renewed every day by Kurdish media.

Through the Kurdish satellite stations the Kurdish language has moved from the rural areas into the cities. The Kurdish language have got a chance to be reformed and the differences between Kurdish dialects has become lesser and the Kurdish languange has moved towards a standardization.

The emergence of the Kurdish satellite channels can be related to the political strategy that has been formed by Kurds in diaspora. A public debate through modern technology can be seen as a progress. The Kurdish struggle has been distinguished by warfare. Instead of such methods they have now the possibility of using other methods in order to continue the struggle. This can be seen as a part of the process of democratization. Furthermore, the women in the oppressing patriarchal Kurdish societies now have the chance to make themselves heard and seen through Kurdish media.