New publication: Special Issue on Kurdish Media and Culture

Kevin Smets has co-edited (with Ali Fuat Sengul) a special issue of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication. The issue is titled “Kurdish media and culture in a shifting Middle East” and it explores the shifting role of Kurds in the global mediasphere, as well as the developing Kurdish media culture in the Middle East. The special issue contributes to a stronger understanding of the relations between media, culture and society in the Middle East and includes articles discussing topics as diverse as cinema, literature and social media. The issue is found here.


Kurds have come to occupy an increasingly important position in the contemporary Middle East, notably in the struggle against Islamic State (IS). This has brought about an increased presence of Kurds in global media. At the same time, the Kurdish media landscape in the Middle East and in the diaspora has developed rapidly. The timing is thus appropriate to reconsider Kurdish media and cultural production in the light of the recent political, cultural, social and technological shifts. In this editorial introduction to the special issue on Kurdish media and cultural production we reflect on this growing field of research, focusing on three questions: How do media and cultural production contribute to contemporary (discourses on) Kurdish movements, and vice versa? How can we explain the emergence of a Kurdish mediascape in the Middle East and Europe theoretically and methodologically? And, what is the relevance and potential effect of this emerging Kurdish mediascape for the existing politics of media at the national and international level? We give a brief overview of the current state of research on Kurdish media and cultural production and discuss the articles in this special issue and how they contribute to a stronger understanding of the relations between media, culture and society in the Middle East.

The special issue also includes a paper by CEMESO member Yazan Badran (with Enrico De Angelis) on ‘Independent’ Kurdish Media in Syria: Conflicting Identities in the Transition. The paper can be found here.


The Syrian uprising in 2011 was accompanied by the birth of a new generation of media outlets seeking to offer different narratives to those of the regime. Having gained a certain level of autonomy from both Syrian regime and opposition forces, areas historically inhabited by Kurds (Rojava) have also seen the emergence of local media: for example. television station Ronahi, magazines and newspapers such as Welat, Buyer and Shar magazines and newspapers, Arta FM and Welat radio stations and ARA News agency. Indeed, Syrian Kurds have for the first time in their history the opportunity to have an independent voice in the media landscape. This paper aims to map the field of emerging Kurdish media in Syria and analyse some of the main features of these outlets while situating them in the larger context of emerging Syrian media. Moreover, the paper explores their relationship within the current political context of the Syrian uprising and, especially, of Rojava. In doing so, it analyses the political identity that these media tend to project and addresses how they position themselves towards the issue of the Kurdish identity in general and in Syria in particular.