Accepted Paper:

Tribes and kinship among the Kurds in the social media age  

Author:

Elisabetta Costa (University of Groningen)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper will discuss the role of social media in shaping ideas and practices of kinship among the Kurds living in southeast Turkey.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will discuss the role of social media in shaping ideas and practices of kinship among the Kurds living in southeast Turkey. Kurdish young adults have been massively using social media to communicate with distant relatives and members of the extended family, lineage and tribe living in other provinces and regions of Turkey, or also abroad. On Facebook young women and men often have few hundreds 'friends' who are same-sex peers, that together with their siblings of the other sex and their older and younger relatives (not connected to the internet), can compose a whole lineage. On social media they chat, communicate, and spend time looking at relatives' images and pictures, and can feel part of the extended family or tribe.

The Kurds, with the exception of the poor peasants, have been traditionally organized into tribes that vary in size from a few thousand to more than a hundred thousand (Martin van Bruinessen). Despite Turkish state's policies of population resettlement and assimilation, forced migration, and urbanization processes, tribal loyalties and kin ties continue to remain a fundamental basis of social organization among the Kurds. However, for many young people, social media is the principal or the only place where they can maintain and strengthen relationships with distant relatives dispersed around Turkey and the world. Furthermore, the online reunification of first, second and third cousins contributes to shape a sense of belonging to the Kurdish community, and to the production of Kurdish identity.

Panel P059
Kinship: taking stock in the light of social media