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Anatomy of a Civil War

Sociopolitical Impacts of the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey

Mehmet Gurses

Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Imprint: University of Michigan Press
Published: 01/2018
Pages: 192
Subject: Political Science - International Relations/General, Political Science - World/European, Political Science - Peace
Print ISBN: 9780472131006
eBook ISBN: 9780472901166


Anatomy of a Civil War demonstrates the destructive nature of war, ranging from the physical to the psychosocial, as well as war's detrimental effects on the environment. Despite such horrific aspects, evidence suggests that civil war is likely to generate multilayered outcomes. To examine the transformative aspects of civil war, Mehmet Gurses draws on an original survey conducted in Turkey, where a Kurdish armed group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has been waging an intermittent insurgency for Kurdish self-rule since 1984. Findings from a probability sample of 2,100 individuals randomly selected from three major Kurdish-populated provinces in the eastern part of Turkey, coupled with insights from face-to-face in-depth interviews with dozens of individuals affected by violence, provide evidence for the multifaceted nature of exposure to violence during civil war. Just as the destructive nature of war manifests itself in various forms and shapes, wartime experiences can engender positive attitudes toward women, create a culture of political activism, and develop secular values at the individual level. In addition, wartime experiences seem to robustly predict greater support for political activism. Nonetheless, changes in gender relations and the rise of a secular political culture appear to be primarily shaped by wartime experiences interacting with insurgent ideology.


“Anatomy of a Civil War provides an original empirical account of how conflict impacted individuals’ lives and the wider socio-political transformations it has brought about. It is the first quantitative analysis of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, which enables the author to formulate more concrete conclusions.”
—Cengiz Gunes, The Open University