Ethnic Identity: Who is in or out?

Who decides who is in or out of an ethnic group? That’s a tricky question. It depends on who you ask. Most times, people decide themselves that they are an ethnic group, distinct from others for various reasons. But there are cases where outsiders draw some lines. 

Consider the Kurds of Turkey. Kurds are regularly cited as the largest ethnic group in the world without a nation. They form a large minority in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Because of a separatist movement with a violent faction, the presence of oil on the land Kurds wanted to claim, and an overall Turkish “homogenization” program, beginning roughly a century ago, the Turkish government oppressed the Kurds and denied their existence. They were officially labeled as “Mountain Turks;” and the Kurdish language was not taught in schools or allowed on signs for decades. Some of these reactionary practices have been reintroduced in recent years. Many other governments have exercised similar controls over minority ethnic groups. 

Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash lpc lmft md lnha nha lnfa nfa cultural competency