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Date of Award


Access Type

Campus Access

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Joya Misra

Second Advisor

Agustin Lao-Montes

Third Advisor

Robert Zussman

Subject Categories

Islamic World and Near East History | Social and Cultural Anthropology


In my dissertation I analyze the relationships between historical and everyday state-formation and the making and remaking of the people and landscapes of Dersim, produced as the outsiders of state. I focus on three periods: the massacre and the following displacements in Dersim known as 1938; the growth of capitalism in Turkey and the leftist movements in Dersim between World War II and the coup d'etat of 1980; and, finally, the rise of the PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) and the "state of exception" in Dersim in the 1990s. I conclude with a discussion of the last decade where the history, identity, and nature of Dersim have been central to various social and political organizations through the first public recognitions of 1938 after seventy-two years, and a developing anti-dam politics.

I mobilize archival methods, field research, in-depth and multiple-session interviews with three consequent generations, and focus groups. Through analyzing state and newspaper archives of the 1930s, and the "extraordinary laws" of the 1980s and 1990s, I discuss multiple narratives and discourses about Dersim, how outsiders came to be defined as "exceptions to the law," and how they are managed in different periods. Through field research in different settlements and political organizations, interviews, and focus groups, I analyze the mechanisms through which experiences and memories of state violence are transferred and mobilized by different generations to construct identities and oppositional movements.

I argue that relations of power and struggle can be analyzed only historically and in relation to each other. More specifically, the state, movements and identity are related and founded upon the making of "outsiderness." On one hand, the making of the outsiders contributes to the productions of the nation and consolidation of state power. On the other, outsiders identify with and mobilize "outsiderness" as a generalized category of a counter-hegemonic identity. I argue that outsiderness is transferred through subjective constructions of history in the form of memory and consciousness, mediated through personal interactions with the state, and transformed by the movements. As an identity produced simultaneously by the state and the people, outsiderness is both enabling and paralyzing for movements.