Rethinking Democracy and Autonomy Through the Case of Kurdish Movement

  • Dilan Okçuoğlu
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


Despite the rise of enriching literature on autonomy, the practical dimension of autonomy has found little place in the discussions among scholars. It is mostly because that the literature on institutional redesign of ethnically divided nations is usually led by those who support the integration or accommodation of minorities but rarely frame the debate in terms of minority empowerment (Gagnon 2012). In this article, minority empowerment is the foundational principle of my discussion on autonomy. In contrast to the regimes where relations of hegemonic control are deeply-rooted into the tradition of the unitary state, power-sharing and autonomy are proposed as a new way of thinking about diversity and its relation to democracy. The objective of my article is to focus on the Kurdish case in Turkey in order to analyse the extent to which democracy and autonomy can be compatible. I begin my argument by drawing a theoretical distinction between instrumentalist and intrinsic values of democracy. This intrinsic view of democracy is compatible with autonomy and collective self-determination because the demands of freedom as non-domination for everyone regardless of their ethnicity and group membership become a threshold that a set of democratic institutions has to meet. In the absence of a certain type of democracy, which is more egalitarian, democracy and autonomy become incompatible and as a result, political actors are compelled to strive for alternative models of institutional design.



I would like to give special thanks to Margaret Moore, John F. Varty, Jean Rémi Carbonneau, Elcin Aktoprak and Nisa Goksel for their valuable comments and suggestions. All errors are mine.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dilan Okçuoğlu
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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