Audi Alteram Partem: Hear the Kurdish Side


American Express


Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution January 20, 2008 Audi Alteram Partem: Hear the Kurdish Side - By Karim Hasan 


This paper [1]  practices the right to Audi Alteram Partem (hear the other side) to uncover the ways in which communication, regulation and socialization in Kurdistan and outside Kurdistan proper have been governed by denial, repression, peripheralization and exploitation (DRPE). The main obstacle on the accumulation and construction of cohesive, constructive communication, socialization and regulation in Kurdistan and outside Kurdistan proper society has been the ‘axes of four’.  The axes of four have reserved to themselves as a natural and God-given right on matters related to Kurdish and Kurdistan society are now on the path of state-formation and statehood, this paper calls both on academics and world public opinion to hear the Kurdish side about the injustices that Kurds have endured.

      Scholastic methods for conducting this research is an ‘epistemological-ontology’ approach (Bourdieu 1991, 1992; Hacking 2002) and “communicative action – discourse ethics” (Habermas 1981, 1987, 1991, 1989).  Attempt has been made to make good use of these two methodological branches of knowledge production/constitution.  Merging epistemology and ontology may seem a complicated and a contradictory methodological practice in qualitative social scientific, and public affairs and management research.  This project disagrees with this claim, and it puts to practice these two methods.  Epistemological research helps us with ‘know-how techniques’ and the possibility of knowledge of the object of inquiry (Bourdieu 1991, 1992). Ontological research allows us the study of the sources and origins of the characteristics of the object of knowledge. It helps the discovery of whether an object of an inquiry is real or has been constituted/constructed (Bourdieu 1987; Hacking 2002; Habermas 1981, 1987, 1991, 1989).

Kurdish and Kurdistan society are read through “lifeworld/system”, “communicative action”, “discourse ethics” of Habermas; “habitus/field” of Bourdieu.  This reading is not an interpretive exegetical application of Habermas and Bourdieu sociologies-world views; rather it is inspired by their work in a general sense in conjunction with directly relevant research literature on the Middle East, Kurds, Kurdistan and the Kurdish Question. Thus, neither a ‘word for word’ translation, nor a strict application of these distinguished academic works is my approach. This epistemological-ontology reading of the ways ‘lifeworld/system’ and ‘habitus/field’ of Kurdish and Kurdistan have been governed through agonizing methods of communication, regulation and socialization have denied, exploited, peripheralized and repressed Kurds and the people of Kurdistan .

      Professor Habermas’ sociology of ‘lifeworld/system’ allows a study of formal and non-formal spheres of society.  This paper utilizes his approach read communication, socialization and regulation in informal sphere (life-world, everyday-life) and the formal sphere (system) of Kurdish and Kurdistan society.  The ‘lifeworld and everyday-life’ are the informal sphere that represent normative ‘subjective’ sphere in which non-formal operate; and ‘system’ represents an ‘objective’ sphere which is formal, rational and procedural.  The significance of socialization, communication and regulation in Kurdistan’s ‘lifeworld/system’ and ‘habitus/field’ through structuralist studies of formal and non-formal organizations play important role in holding Kurdish and Kurdistan society together.  The medium that can bring these two spheres of formal and non-formal, objective and subjective spheres together in Habermasian model is “communicative action” and “discourse ethics” which are the medium between the system and lifeworld by bringing the two to dialogue.  Habermas suggests that the best communicative method is “discourse ethics” which leads to the emergence of the respectable and representative ‘public sphere’.  

      Bourdieu’s sociology of ‘habitus’ and ‘field’ are important which can help reading the ways in which the characteristics of certain ‘habitus’ can generate specific modes of communication, regulation and socialization in the ‘field’.  ‘Habitus/field’ represent formal and at informal spheres of subjective and objective realms of social and human sciences in Bourdieu’s excellent sociological work.  The objective realm is divided into fields which together form structures of human societies, the subjective realm is operated by non-formal social world; it is the reconciliation between subjective ‘habitus’ and objective ‘field’ practiced through ‘reflexive sociology’.  The ‘habitus’ and ‘field’ practices of colonizers of Kurdistan, ‘the axes of four’ have been repressing, denying and peripheralizing communicative competencies, legal and justifiable method of regulations and socialization to exploit Kurdish and Kurdistan society’s social, economic and political resources.

      Has a public sphere emerged in Kurdish and Kurdistan society? What lifeworld and system govern Kurdish and Kurdistan society? What methods of communication and socialization are practiced in Kurdish and Kurdistan society?  Inspired by Professor Jürgen Habermas and Perrier Bourdieu’s well articulated sociological system this reading attempts to tackle these questions.  Communication, socialization and regulation are important spheres of human societies, Kurdish and Kurdistan societies cannot afford to remain being agonized; this calls on academics and world public opinion to hear the Kurdish side: Audi Parterm Alteram Partem.   2. Socialization, Communication and Regulation

Socialization and communication are fields which need to be studied; however, there are no references on methods of communication and socialization in Kurdish and Kurdistan society.  It is not an object of this analysis to justify and trace the genealogy of socialization and communication in Kurdistan; rather it briefly explains methods, spaces and purposes of socialization and communication in Kurdish and Kurdistan society. My approach utilizes general theses proposed by Habermas and Bourdieu on socialization and communication.  According to Habermas, socialization and communication are components of the evolution of human species (1972).

      Jürgen Habermas (Habermas 1979, 1981, 1987) presents a powerful argument for the development of “purposive activity” to “communicative action” which operates on the proposition that ‘communication on all issues is free and open to everyone who is concerned’ grounded on principles of “discourse ethics”.  His approach to this development combines and brings both methods together in the genealogy/genesis of the evolution of methods of communication in their relation to the social, economic and political evolution/development of human societies.  Communicative action is a program that grounds its practice on “discourse ethics” and it is compatible with a social, an economic and a political system that follows principles of institutionalized economic, political and social democracy.  

      The colonizers of Kurdish and Kurdistan society have not governed through institutionalized principles of social, political and economic democracy.  Lack of democratic practise has made it difficult for Kurds to govern their affairs through democratic principles of communicative-democracy “communicative action” through practices of “discourse ethics”.  Socialization and communication have been dominated by ‘agonistic’ practices of communication and socialization imposed on Kurdish and Kurdistan society by the Turko-Ottomans and Persian-Iranian powers. It has been the characteristics of the colonizers ‘habitus’ to practise agonistic method of communication in the ‘life-world, everyday life’ and the ‘system’ that have governed Kurdish and Kurdistan society.  At points where the objective was not achieved though communicative-violence, they resorted to violence, but violence is a crime.

      Kurdish and Kurdistan society have been living under communicative agonistic methods of the failed juridico-political administrations of Turko-Ottomans and Persian-Iranians powers.  These power-holder groups have used agonistic methods of communication with Kurdish society even in the education curriculum; for example, Bourdieu’s ‘symbolic violence’ in physical and mental sense, because the education system in Kurdistan uses harsh ethico-moral techniques of communication, physical punishment of students, especially the elementary students.  In junior-high and high school, techniques of communication change to ethico-moral models of communication, which at some point may lead to either communicative violation or physical violence.  The ‘axes of four’ 

      These agonizing methods of communication have often led to further forms of social problems between groups, families and Kurdish political parties, and they have become a predominant method of critique in journalism, and investigative reports, also in academic sphere.  However, agonizing practices of social and moral regulation in many cases have led to violence. While Turko-Ottomans and Persian-Iranian powers may practice these methods of socialization and communication among their own ranks, because they do not have inclusive social, economic and political democratic systems, they are responsible for promoting these practices of socialization, communication and regulation in Kurdish and Kurdistan society. 

      Are Kurdish people social? What are the spheres of socialization and communication?  Kurdish people are very social in the sense of socializing with their neighbours, attending to social occasions, marriage ceremonies, sharing grief for the death of loved ones and other formal and informal occasions.  Primary spaces of socialization are family, schools, tea-shops, the Mosque [2] , the Church, the Hebrew and other religious temples, evening and night visitations of neighbours and friends…etc.  Recently many civil society organizations have been founded in Southern Kurdistan , which have created far more spaces of socialization.  These spaces can be divided into public and private spheres, formal and informal spheres of socialization.   

      It is time to transform, to develop and to implement a progressive approach to Kurdish society by leaving behind these harsh methods of socialization, communication and regulation which are imposed on Kurdish society by the ‘axes of four’. These usages of severe forms of moralization, socialization and communication come from three main known sources: the tradition- religion, the political practices of colonizers, and they get regenerated through education system.  There are no references and no research works on the discussed modes of ‘socio-legal fields’ of regulation in Kurdish and Kurdistan society.  A study of modes of communication and regulation in Kurdish and Kurdistan society would increase the understanding of how Kurdish society interacts, socializes, communicates and sanctions its member in social, economic and political life.  Such study reveals the practices of DEPR by the ‘axes of four’.

      The informal models of regulations are mores, norms, customs, ethical and moral standards that come from traditions of Kurdish and Kurdistan society linked to larger Middle Eastern societies, Mediterranean and Europe .  However, these models of regulation have been far harsher on Kurdish and Kurdistan society due to practices of DEPR. For example, gossip constitutes one of the most predominant oral methods of regulation among the lower and middle class. The language of moral and ethical regulation is so severe that could result in confrontation and violence.  Gossip also has been used to govern and control Kurdish and Kurdistan society by the ‘axes of four’.

These methods are notorious and morally loaded with name-calling, labelling, agonizing the Kurdish communities within themselves, but mainly have been imposed on Kurds and Kurdistan by the ‘axes of four’.  These forms of regulation have had negative influence on the development of social cohesion and sense of community in Kurdish social, political and economic life.  The aggregate of such dense moral regulations, communicative agonization have hindered transformation of Kurdish and Kurdistan a progressive democratic society.  Through ‘socialization and communication’ regulation and moralization of social behaviour, relationships, customs, costumes, food and diet, almost all social practices have been preformed by the ‘axes of four’.  However, under these very difficult conditions Kurdistan’s socialization, communication and regulation have progressed and transformed the governing structures imposed by ‘DEPR order’ (please see my research paper on Transformation of Kurdish and Kurdistan Society to Civic Loyalties).

3. Kurds Outside Kurdistan Proper (Diaspora)

There are cumulative literatures on ‘diaspora’, which have not been included in this brief analysis of diaspora. Although the category of ‘diaspora’ has been applied to those ethnic groups and nationalities that have been forced out of their homeland and their place of origin and those who are dispersed across regions, ‘diaspora’ is proper to be applied to those who consider themselves ‘diaspora’ and those who do not have a sense of connection to their homeland, those do not have sense of attachment to their homeland, those who have been born outside of their homeland, those who have no real-sense of its location, those who claim no-connection and those who are not interested in returning. 

      Taking this tension into account, diaspora is a contentious term by which in recent years the Kurds outside Kurdistan proper have been categorized.  The reservation I present is about the applicability of ‘diaspora’ to the Kurds outside ‘ Kurdistan proper’ is important.  Most Kurds do not want to be turned into a ‘diasporic community’, because they were expelled from their homeland or have migrated, a homeland with a known location, it is not imaginary, but it is real on the world map, it has topography and a physical geography.  The problems of diaspora are that it mentalizes homeland and confuses those who are categorized ‘diaspora’, because it disperses the sense of belonging it is a problematic category.  

The concept of ‘diaspora’ mentalizes and takes away homeland, and confuses Kurdish communities outside Kurdistan proper, who are better to be referred to by other formal categories: immigrant, refugee, citizen, guest worker are preferable over diaspora.  These formal categories allow them to understand their real status in the host society; ‘diaspora’ is not a recognizable legal status.  

The ‘axes of four’ have been very active against Kurds outside Kurdistan proper, they have specifically targeted capable and active Kurds who are able to contribute to their immediate communities in which they have settled in, their home country and humanitarian issues.  The Kurds outside Kurdistan proper work in service based industry, middle technical professions, government officials, teach in education, professors, researchers, family doctors, dentists, lawyers, members of parliament in Europe, members of political parties, social and human rights activists and many other professions. 

Agonizing methods of socialization, communication and regulation have been predominant among Kurds of outside Kurdistan proper.  The ‘axes of four’ have been able spread practices of agonizing socialization, regulation and communication among Kurdish communities - these practices in many instances have led to negative health, wealth and security of the Kurdish citizens, migrants and refugees.  The ‘axes of four’ also have been able to spread gossip in a negative way to disturb social, economic and political mobility of Kurdish communities.  


The social is a field that is vital to cohesion, sense of belonging and state-formation. The social is a domain and a field of sovereignty, it is so delicate that it could make or break governments and organizational structures.  Efforts that have been made to practice “communicative action” on grounds of “discourse ethics” deserve support and promotion.  It is time to depart from imposed agonizing methods of socialization, communication, regulation and governance on Kurdish and Kurdistan society, a departure that allows the practice of discourse ethics and communicative action.  This can be granted by respect and democratic rights of participations (Habermas 1981, 1987, 1991, 1989).  Kurdish and Kurdistan society are on path of state-formation and they need social cohesion more than ever. End Notes:

[1]  In two papers published on Kurdish Aspect, engagement in analytical explanation of Kurds, Kurdistan , the Kurdish Question and their transformation were primary focus.  This paper is a section in a longer research paper that I conducted in summer 2007, it focuses on the ‘unjust’ ways in which methods of communication, socialization and regulation imposed on Kurdish and Kurdistan society by ‘axes of four’: Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. It calls on academics and world public opinion to hear the Kurdish side: Audi Alteram Partem. Audi Alteram Partem is Latin. It is a common law and Natural Law remedy similar to Habeas Corpus, in administrative and state legal matters when one side to a case is heard, but important relevant parties to the case are excluded or ignored from “the right to be heard”.  Then, lawyers request Audi Alteram Parterm which in Latin means “hear the other side”.  The purpose of practising this common law defence and extending it to 'the Kurdish case' is to call on academic communities and world public opinion 'to hear the Kurdish side'.  The 'axes of four' have almost always reserved the right right to be heard on matters related to Kurds and Kurdistan society, now it is time to depart from communicative-agonism, hear the Kurdish through communicative action and discourse ethics.  Iraq no-longer is considered a colonizer and a member of the ‘axes of four’, it has a federal relationship with Kurdistan Region since 2003.  The bibliography given in this paper [2]  There has been a considerable decline in the role of religious institutions as a space of socialization. Bibliography Ahmad, Mohammed, M.A. and Gunter Michael M. The Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraq War Oakton: Virginia , 2005. Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo The City of God Modern Library: New York , 1950. Anderson, Liam and Gareth Stansfield (eds.) The Future of Iraq : Dictatorship, Democracy, or Division Palgrave Macmillan: New York , 2004. Bourdieu, Pierre Outline of a Theory of Practice Cambridge : New York , 1977.  Bourdieu, Pierre In Other Word: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology Polity: Oxford , 1987. Bourdieu, Pierre “What Makes a Social Class?: On the Theoretical and Practical Existence of Groups” Berkeley Journal of Sociology 32: 1-17, 1987. Bourdieu, Pierre The Craft of Sociology: Epistemological Preliminaries, 1991. Bourdieu, Pierre The Field of Cultural Production: Essays on the Art and Literature Randal Johnson (eds.) Columbia University Press: New York , 1993. Bourdieu, Pierre The Social Structures of the Economy Polity: Cambridge , 2005. Bourdieu, Pierre “The Political Field, the Social Science Field, and the Journalistic Field” in Rodney Benson and Erik Neveu (eds.) Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field (pp. 29-47), Cambridge : Polity, 2005. Bourdieu, Pierre and James S. Coleman Social Theory for a changing Society West View Press: Boulder , 1991. Buckley, Richard (eds.) “The Kurds: Caught Between Nations” Understanding Global Issues (94): 3, European Schoolbooks Publishing Limited: Cheltenham , 1994.  Ciment, James The Kurds: State and Minority Rights in Turkey , Iraq and Iran Facts on File: New York , 1996. Ghareeb, Edmund The Kurdish Question in Iraq Syracuse University Press: Syracuse , 1981. Grenfell, Micheal and Micheal Kelly (eds.) Pierre Bourdieu: Language, Culture and Education, Theory into Culture Oxford University Press: Oxford , 2004. Gros, Jean-Germain “Towards a Taxonomy of Failed States in the New World Order: Decaying Somalia , Liberia , Rwanda and Haiti ” Third World Quarterly 17 (3): 445-471, 1996. Habermas, Jûrgen Knowledge and Human Interest Heinemann: London , 1972. Habermas, Jûrgen The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 1: Reason and Rationalization of Society Beacon Press: Boston , 1981. Habermas, Jûrgen The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume 2: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason Beacon Press: Boston , 1987. Habermas, Jûrgen The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society MIT Press: Cambridge , 1989. Habermas, Jûrgen Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action MIT Press: Cambridge , 1991. Habermas, Jûrgen Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics MIT Press: Cambridge , 1993. Habermas, Jûrgen Between Facts and Norms: Contribution to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy MIT Press: Cambridge , 1996. Habermas, Jûrgen The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory MIT Press: Cambridge , 1999. Hacking, Ian Historical Ontology Harvard University Press: Cambridge , 2002. Hunt, Alan and Gray Wickham “Governance and its Principles” in Alan Hunt and Gray Wickham’s Foucault and the Law: Towards a Sociology of Law as Governance Pluto Press: London , 1994. Hunt, Alan “The Role of Law in the Civilizing Process and the Reform of Popular Culture” in Canadian Journal of Legal Studies 10 (2): 5-29, 1995. Izady, Mehrdad The Kurds: A Concise Handbook Carne Russak: Washington , 1992. Jwaideh, Wadie The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development Syracuse University Press: New York , 2006 Kushner, Tony Refugees in the Age of Genocide: Global, National and Local Perspectives During the Twentieth Century Frank Cass: London , 1999. Makiya, Kanan Republic of Fear: Politics of Modern Iraq University of California Press: Berkeley , 1998.  (Note: Kanan Makia first published this book under a designated name Samir al-Kalil in 1989. He feared that Iraqi government might retaliate if he had published this book in his own name). McDowall, David Kurds: A Nation Denied Minority Rights Publication: London , 1992. McDowall, David A Modern History of the Kurds St. Martin Press: New York , 20043. McKiernan, Kevin The Kurds: A People in Search of Their Homeland St. Martine’s Press: New York , 2006. Natali, Denise “Manufacturing Identity and Managing Kurds in Iraq” in O’Leary, B. Sustick, I. S. and Callaghy, T. Right-Sizing the State: The Politics of Moving Borders, pp. 253-288, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2001. Natali, Denise The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq , Turkey , and Iran Syracuse University Press: New York , 2005. O’Ballance, Edgar The Kurdish Struggle, 1920-94 MacMillan Press: New York , 1996. O’Leary, Brendan, John McGarry and Khaled Salih (eds.) The Future of Kurdistan in Iraq University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia , 2005. O’Leary, Carole A. “Are the Kurds a Source of Instability in the Middle East?” in Ahmad, Mohammed, M.A. and Michael Gunter M The Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraq War, pp. 17-29, Oakton: Virginia, 2005. Olson, Robert W. The Kurdish Question and Turkish Iranian Relations: From World War I to 1998 Mazda Publishers: Costa Mesa , 1998.  Olson, Robert W. The Goat and the Butcher: Nationalism and State Formation in Kurdistan-Iraq Since the Iraqi War Mazda Publishers: Costa Mesa , 2005. O’Shea, Maria T. Trapped Between the Map and Reality: Geography and Perceptions of Kurdistan Routledge: New York , 2004. Strohomeier, Martin Crucial Images in Presentation of a Kurdish National Identity: Heroes and Patriots, Traitors and Foes Brill: Boston , 2003.  van Bruinessen, Martin Agha, Shaikh and State: The Social and Political Structure of Kurdistan Zed Books: London , 1992. van Bruinessen, Martin Kurdish Ethno-Nationalism Versus Nation-Building States Isis Press: Istanbul , 2000A. van Bruinessen, Martin Mullas, Sufis and Heretics: The Role of Religion in Kurdish Society Isis Press: Istanbul , 2000B. van Bruinessen, Martin “The Kurdish Question: Whose Questions, Whose Answers? The  Whitman, Lois Destroying Ethnic Identity: The Kurds of Turkey , an Update Human Rights Watch: New York , 1990.  Yildiz, Kerim and Georgina Fryer The Kurds: Culture and Language, Kurdish Human Rights Project: London , 2004.

Top of page


Awene The most admired Independent Kurdish Newspaper from the heart of Kurdistan.

Khatuzeen Center For Kurdish Women’s Issues

Soma SOMA Digest, Iraqi Kurdistan's one and only English-language news digest

Hevallo Hevallo actively supports the Kurdish Freedom Struggle.

Klawrojna An Independent Online Kurdish-English Newspaper

American Express

Copyright © 2008 All rights reserved.

Design a Mobile Website
View Site in Mobile | Classic
Share by: