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The Best Article Award in Kurdish Studies 

This award recognizes the best article in Kurdish Studies by a rising scholar during the previous calendar year. In this year’s competition, social science and humanities articles published in English language peer-reviewed journals in 2020 were considered. The winning article is  awarded $500. The selection committee was composed of Ceren Belge (Concordia University), Ozlem Goner (City University of New York), and Güneş Murat Tezcür (University of Central Florida).


The committee has unanimously found the following article worthy of the award.

Fırat Bozçalı (2020).Probabilistic borderwork: Oil smuggling, nonillegality, and techno‐legal politics in the Kurdish borderlands of Turkey. American Ethnologist, 47(1), 72-85.

The armed conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish insurgents has been a central focus of scholarship. While the conflict waxes and wanes, Kurdish civilians in contested zones navigate multiple layers of judicial control and administrative surveillance in pursuit of a living. In his article, Bozçalı brings a refreshing perspective about how ordinary people engage in cross-border economic activities while aiming to avoid charges of smuggling. Based on 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork in judicial and commercial settings, Bozçalı demonstrates how the state’s attempts to curtail oil smuggling via the adoption of new technologies are effectively challenged by Kurdish traders and lawyers. The latter utilize uncertainty inherent to chemical tests and exploit the ambiguity between scientific and legal knowledge production  to counter charges of smuggling. While these activities do not involve an alternative political sovereignty claim, they involve mundane forms of resistance and disrupt the state’s ability to control its borders. Bozçalı’s article is a splendid example of how an immersive approach could reveal counterintuitive empirical findings, generate new theoretical insights, and demonstrate the ability of Kurdish Studies to enrich broader scholarly debates about the scope and limits of the state power in borderlands.

Honorable Mention

The committee has also unanimously found the following article worthy of an honorable mention.

Zozan Pehlivan. (2020).El Niño and the nomads: Global climate, local environment, and the crisis of pastoralism in late Ottoman Kurdistan. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 63(3), 316-356.

In this fascinating article, Zozan Pehlivan traces the climatic changes in late 19th century Ottoman Kurdistan, first linking these to the global El Nino Southern Oscillation, then tracing how the ensuing drought, extreme cold, and lack of forage affected the livelihoods of local pastoralists, whose conflicts with peasants increased. Thoroughly original, and scrupulously researched, the article promises to open new avenues of research in the intersection of environmental and Kurdish studies, and inspire new approaches to the study of communal conflict in this critical period and beyond.



Latest Kurdish Political Studies Program Newsletter

The Kurdish Political Studies Program (KPSP) is delighted to announce the release of the latest newsletter, highlighting the programs projects and accomplishments over the past year. 2020 has been a difficult year for universities around the United States. Yet In the face of unprecedented and unique challenges brought by the pandemic, KPSP proved to be resilient. We continued to pursue a variety of activities contributing to greater scholarly understanding of Kurdish issues, facilitating intellectual exchanges, fostering international collaborations, and deepening student interest in Kurdish people and politics. Over the past year, the KPSP collaborated with a university in Iraqi Kurdistan to help organize the nation’s first Model United Nations, which is expected to improve the perspectives for global citizenship engagement in the region. We have also hosted several cultural and educational events  dedicated to Kurdish poetry and literature, economics of the region, and Kurdish politics. Lastly, we have supported several Doctoral students who have successfully defended their theses, and welcomed new additions to our interdisciplinary research group. We invite you to find out more about these and other events in our newsletter.






The Kurdish Political Studies Program (KPSP), hosted at the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, is the first and only academic program dedicated to the study of politics of Kurds and Kurdistan in the United States. KPSP promotes academic studies and public awareness of Kurdish politics, organizes events addressing contemporary issues affecting Kurdish people, facilitates exchanges and collaborations between UCF and Kurdish universities, and develops curriculum focusing on themes related to the Kurdish experience. KPSP is integrated with the Security Studies doctoral program. A review of KPSP activities from spring 2020 to summer 2021 could be found here.

KPSP is also the home of the Jalal Talabani Endowed Chair of Kurdish Political Studies, the only such position in the country, which was inaugurated on October 29, 2015. The mission of the Chair includes teaching, research and scholarly pursuits centering on Kurdish Political Studies, and further developing recognized excellence in that field. It also facilitates fellowships, distinguished visitors, public forums, courses, workshops and other offerings that objectively present and discuss policies and conditions affecting the security, peace and democratic governance of the Kurdish people, including episodes of mass violence such as the Anfal genocide.

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Upcoming Events

UCF Global Perspectives and International Initiatives at the University of Central Florida in partnership with the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo is launching the 2nd installment of an ongoing series of Future…
Join the UCF Arboretum at our Fall Makers Market! We invite you to visit with us at the Arboretum Park to enjoy the beautiful weather and support our amazing UCF Community Artists including students, faculty, and staff by purchasing beautiful,…
A Lunch on the Coast virtual series talk brought to you by UCF Coastal and UCF College of Sciences. RSVP is required in order to receive the Zoom event link. Click here to RSVP. Speaker: Michelle Gaither, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology eDNA:…
The Center for Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM) is a proud sponsor and host for the SECME Regional Competition. The UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science has a long history of promoting diversity and supporting pre-college science, technology, engineering and…

Previous Events

“Kurdish Literature and Culture”
2 October 2020, 12 PM EST

“Political Economy of Kolberi”
16 October 2020, 1 PM EST. 

“Reflections on Kurdish Politics”
20 November 2020, 12 PM EST

“Kurdish Poetry and Translation”
26 March 2021, 11 AM EST


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