dr. (Ayhan) A Isik


I am an interdisciplinary scholar that focuses on political history, violence, conflicts and paramilitarism particularly in Turkey, Kurdistan and the Middle East. I defended my dissertation ‘The Emergence, Transformation and Functions of Paramilitary Groups in Northern Kurdistan (Eastern Turkey) in the 1990s’ in the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University in September 2020. Specifically, I analyse how different types of state-backed paramilitary groups emerged, organised, transformed and act during the war between the Turkish state and the PKK. My work demonstrates that the period between 1991 and 1996 was characterised by the “paramilitarisation of the state” and the bureaucratic and operational blurring of the boundaries between the state’s (official and unofficial) military units and the paramilitary groups. I finished my undergraduate and master’s degree at the Department of History at Istanbul Bilgi University. My master’s thesis was about Kurdish and Armenian Relations in the Ottoman Kurdish Press (1898-1914). I am a co-founder and an editorial board member of Toplum ve Kuram (Theory and Society: Kurdish Studies) Journal. I am a co-author of the book The Unspoken Truth: Enforced Disappearances, the research of the Truth Justice Memory Center. Currently, I am developing a project on the role of paramilitary groups in peace processes by comparing examples from two countries: the pro-UK loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland and the pro-state Kurdish village guards in Turkey.  Also, I examine the examples of impunity in the case of Turkey over the relations between perpetrators (members of paramilitary groups) and the state. My research areas focus on mainly political violence, mass violence and paramilitaries, civil wars, conflict and peace studies, Kurdish studies, oral history, the modern history of Turkey,  migration, Kurdish-Armenian Relations in the Late Ottoman period.

International Institute of Social Studies

Visiting fellow | Academic staff unit
Kortenaerkade 12, 's - Gravenhage

News regarding dr. (Ayhan) A Isik

On the emergence, transformation and functions of paramilitary groups in Turkey

In this interview on the 5th anniversary of the Cizre Massacre, Ayhan Işık, discusses his research into paramilitary groups in Turkey. Read the full interview.
Ayhan Isik

Violence against the Kurds in the Turkish Republic

Uğur Ümit Üngör and Ayhan Işık discuss the systemic violence against Kurds in Turkey since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Nusaybin - Turkey

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