Russians and Kurds in the Middle East (19th-21st centuries)

In a time of increased Russian involvement in Middle East politics, this project aims to study one of its most persistent and paradoxical aspects, the Russo-Kurdish relationship.

Since the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century posited Russia as a central actor of the ‘’Eastern Question’’, Russian military, diplomatic and intellectual elites have routinely identified the Kurds as a key player of this ever-changing regional chessboard.
In their constant search for local allies providing auxiliaries and irregulars in the conflicts of the imperial margins, the Russians and Soviets have focused on the military potential of this people, emphasised in the Orientalist imagination of their ‘’Kurdologists’. But this unwavering interest has only been matched by the versatility of concrete Russian policies toward the Kurds.
Feared as Ottoman auxiliaries in the Hamidiye brigades after 1891, used during the First World War, supported at several moments of the Cold War in the Middle East, they were also deported from the Caucasus by Stalin in 1937 and abandoned many times by an ally whom in return they often considered troublesome and chose to act against.

While regional aspects of Kurdish politics and identity, as well as their connections to diasporas spread across Europe, have been increasingly studied, the aim of this project is to retrieve the military, intellectual, cultural and political dimensions of a relationship that contributed to shape both Russia and the Kurds, while building bridges across Eurasia.

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