This talk will examine the role of the tribe in the formation of Kurdish identity in historical terms and with regard to present day notions of Kurdish nationhood.
The tribe is often considered to be a kinship group based on actual bonds of blood and descent. This has meant that modern Kurdish nationalists, especially those who privilege racial or ethnic boundaries, have often presented Kurdish tribes as the epitome of Kurdish 'purity.' While the tribe is most certainly significant in understanding the formation and development of modern Kurdish identity, its role is often misunderstood. Rather than being the 'purist' element of Kurdish society, it has generally functioned as a symbolic alliance and a social institution. Hence, the tribes were symbolic alliances rather than actual kinship groups through which various diverse communities have been drawn into the circle of 'Kurdishness.'