Re-imagining national struggle: Resistance narratives within the exiled Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för Mellanösternstudier

Abstract: In 2016 the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) decided to modify its resistance strategy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). This study analyses political imaginations within the displaced KDPI community in Iraqi Kurdistan through a social constructivist paradigm and the methods of observations and interviews. Findings highlight “insider views” of resistance and outline how identity processes and memory cultures are pivotal to comprehend resistance narratives within the KDPI community. The study further suggests that identity construction is manufactured by broader shared values rather than narrow ethno-cultural allegiance, while being enunciated through nationalist discourse in pursuit of ideational legitimacy. Concerning memory, findings indicate that history is reconstructed to support present political needs. Memories emblematize values of heroism and trauma, constituting a central power resource through which KDPI members express their identity constructions and legitimize resistance. However, emotional distress and demand for concrete political gains has led to internal divergence. To maintain authority, KDPI’s official values may thus need to be compromised. In 2016 KDPI announced the policy of Rasan, meaning reaction or uprising. Rasan should be understood as a revival of political struggle and thus stands out as such a compromise. Essentially, this study illuminates how increasing tensions between KDPI and IRI may function as a catalyst for increased tensions in Iran and the region.

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