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The Kurds: An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society
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The Kurdish people are a large ethnic group that lives in mountainous regions of several countries spanning southwest Asia, from Turkey to Iran and beyond the Caucasus Mountains, making up a cross-border region known as Kurdistan. Since the creation of nation-states in the region after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds have faced discrimination and persecution, gave up their mostly nomadic lifestyle, and began fighting for basic human rights. All too often, the only knowl- edge we have of this homogenous yet diverse group is one darkened by violence and conflict, whether they are battling ISIS, fighting for control in Syria, or were gassed by Saddam Hussein. However, even today the Kurds remain hopeful to be recognized as a distinct culture living in a sovereign country. Who are the Kurds, and why have they been forced to struggle with a national identity and home for so long? The Kurds: An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society is a timely reference to further our understanding of the Kurds and Kurdistan. It also fills a notable gap in the literature about the Middle East where multiple compilations describe the diverse people, cultures, and identity groups, such as Muslims, women, Arabs, political systems, and minorities, but few focus on the largest ethnic stateless minor- ity, the Kurds. By examining all aspects of Kurdish life in several countries as well as in the diaspora, this encyclopedia provides reliable, up-to-date, and nonsensation- alist references for the generally interested and open-minded readership. These references are compiled by a team of international scholars and researchers including many Kurds with broad experience in the topics discussed in this volume, includ- ing historians, geographers, anthropologists, political scientists, linguists, and artists. The content of the encyclopedia includes three main parts. The first approaches Kurdish life through a number of thematic essays with emphasis on the history, geography, social organization culture, and political situation. Following these top- ics are country-specific entries profiling the Kurdish population in Kurdistan, the area that is split among Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Trans-Caucasus region, as well as in the global diaspora. Special attention is given to local contemporary issues the Kurds face in these countries. The third part surveys a diverse list of primary document excerpts where experts analyze the sources and their relevance to the Kurds throughout history and in the various areas of settlement. These doc- uments include popular poems, works of literature, religious texts, political mani- fests, and speeches, as well as legislation and other laws. Sidebars, a glossary of the most common Kurdish words, and a selected bibliography will round out the text. A note on transliteration from Kurdish (and other Middle Eastern languages) and a chronology of Kurdish history are also incorporated in the book. Preface