Announcement: The Best Article Award in Kurdish Studies

This award, sponsored by Kurdish Political Studies Program at the University of Central Florida, recognizes the best article in Kurdish Studies by a rising scholar during the previous calendar year. For this award cycle, articles published in 2022 will be considered. All articles published in English language peer-reviewed journals addressing questions and covering issues related to Kurdish politics, broadly defined, will be considered for the award. The award is open to all disciplines under social sciences and humanities. The primary author of the article needs to be an untenured scholar (graduate student, post-doc, independent scholar, assistant professor or equivalent) at the time of the publication. The winner will be awarded $800. The awardee will be announced by November 2023.

An electronic copy of the nominated article should be sent to kurdish@ucf.edu. Self-nominations are welcome.

Deadline for nominations: Friday, September 8, 2023

Award Committee:

  • Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, University of Central Florida.
  • Ekrem Karakoc. Binghamton University
  • Nikola Mirilovic, University of Central Florida

Announcement: New KPSP Course Opportunity at UCF for Fall 2023

Announcement: The Best Article Award in Kurdish Studies

This award, sponsored by Kurdish Political Studies Program at the University of Central Florida, 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 2021 were considered. The winning articles share the prize of $800. The selection committee was composed of Michiel Leezenberg (University of Amsterdam), Zozan Pehlivan (University of Minnesota), and Güneş Murat Tezcür (University of Central Florida).

The committee has decided to split the award between two articles:  

Özgür Sevgi Göral (2021).Waiting for the disappeared: waiting as a form of resilience and the limits of legal space in Turkey. Social Anthropology, 29(3), 800-815.

Classical accounts of the counterinsurgency campaign pursued by the Turkish state in Kurdish lands discuss how the law became an instrument of domination to discipline, punish, and subdue political dissent. Göral’s argument offers an alternative reading of the role of law in shaping the encounters between Kurdish citizens who lost their loved ones to enforced disappearances. Focusing on a legal case about the high-ranking military officer accused of executing 21 individuals in the early 1990s, she reveals how novel forms of political subjectivities and activism have emerged among the relatives of the disappeared. Her study is based on rich fieldwork involving dozens of in-depth interviews and participant observation in court settings magnifies the voices of these individuals whose long encounters with the state bureaucracy inform their political resilience and resistance. While the trial ended as expectedly (i.e., all defendants acquitted), the very practice of using Turkey’s court system has exposed the fabricated nature of the state narratives, reinforced a sense of belonging among the activists, and validated their lasting loyalty to their family members victimized by the state. By transcending the binary framework between the state and insurgency that often characterizes the study of the “Kurdish question” in Turkey, Göral gives the struggles of ordinary people directly affected by the conflict the attention they deserve.

Nicola Degli Esposti (2021). The 2017 independence referendum and the political economy of Kurdish nationalism in Iraq. Third World Quarterly, 42(10), 2317-2333.

The referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in September 2017  was the latest bid for sovereignty that remains central to Kurdish political aspirations. Yet it ended in failure and the loss of a significant amount of territory for the KRG. Taking a different approach than the burgeoning literature on the subject, Degli Esposti critically argues that the decision to hold the referendum was not a strategic miscalculation but an attempt to deflect popular unrest. By focusing on the long-neglected political economy of the KRG, Degli Esposti cogently identifies how a non-transparent, unaccountable, and corrupt fiscal system fostered new hierarchies and dependencies that were increasingly sustained by repression. The rise of the self-styled Islamic State, the conflict with the central government of Iraq in Baghdad regarding the budget reallocation, and the global decline in oil prices by 2014 exacerbated social tensions and generated direct threats to the political elite. In this context, the decision to hold the referendum aimed to stoke nationalist sentiments and sustain the political status quo. Degli Esposti’s article brings analytical clarity to this crucial aspect of the referendum and will stimulate much needed discussion about the relationship between Kurdish elites and ordinary people in a time of continuing uncertainty and precariousness in Kurdish lands. 

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

Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (2021). Becoming Armenian: religious conversions in the late imperial South Caucasus. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 63(1), 242-272.

In this rich and elegantly written article, Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky studies voluntary conversions to Armenian Christianity during the late nineteenth century South Caucasus under the rule of the Russian Tsar. These converts included Muslims, Yezidis, Assyrians, and Jews who sought to improve their social standing and material wellbeing in a sociopolitical environment embodying entrenched hierarchies. While the conversions were a slow-moving process subject to approval by the Russian authorities who wielded their power capriciously, they were also emblematic of a social order with relatively fluid identities across the borderlands. This order would be swept away with the outbreaks of intercommunal violence and the rise of ethno-nationalism by the early 20th century. By focusing on a neglected historical dynamic indicating the transmutability of religious identities, Hamed-Troyansky’s article brings a fresh perspective to Kurdish Studies and fosters greater intellectual synergy with other fields of inquiry. 

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

Each year the Center for Initiatives in STEM and Offices of Career Services and Experiential Learning host the Women in STEM – Aim High! workshop to empower and foster the success of women, non-binary, other underrepresented genders, and advocates studying…
The Center for Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM) is thrilled to announce the STEM Day will be held on Friday, October 20 at the University of Central Florida. iSTEM invites schools to come and explore the exciting fields of science, technology,…
This tailgate before the UCF vs. Houston game is free and open to all COS/NSCM alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Enjoy music, food, drinks and family-friendly games and catch up with fellow College of Sciences Alumni! Our tailgate will be…
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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