Güneş Murat Tezcür (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005), the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies, is a social scientist studying political violence, identity, and movements. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in many different scholarly journals such as American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of Peace Research, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Law and Society Review, Nationalities Papers, Party Politics, Politics & Gender, and Political Research Quarterly. He is also the author of Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of Moderation (University of Texas Press, 2010). His research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches a wide range of courses on political violence and nonviolence, the Middle East, democratization, social movements, and politics of energy. He conducts his research in Kurdish, Persian, and Turkish. He also serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

Research Areas

Tezcür has a wide range of scholarly and intellectually interests including the role of identities in shaping political behavior in violent settings, the pursuit of human rights activism in civil wars, the popular struggles for democratization, the politics of Islamic movements, and the geopolitics of the Middle East with a focus on the Kurdish question. His current main research project examines the motivations of ordinary people who take extraordinary risks and join armed movements. In an article forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, he analyzes thousands of individuals who joined the Kurdish insurgency over more than three decades. His research shows that the decision to rebel is as much political as economic and social. Educated young individuals with a sense of political efficacy are likely to develop existential threat perceptions regarding their collective identity through activism and join an armed movement that appears as the most effective way to counter these threats. This finding explains the durability of contemporary insurgencies with poor economic endowments. It has important implications for making sense of the appeal of violent movements among individuals with good life prospects in different parts of the world.

For more information about his scholarship, visit

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