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JAMIE McCOLLUM, PhD Anthropology


Current research:

‘Beyond nationalism and the nation-state? An anthropological analysis of the Kurdish diaspora & democratic confederalism’

For decades the Kurdish national movement has sought the creation of an independent Kurdistan. However, since 2005 a significant section of the Kurdish movement have tempered their demands for an independent state, and have been implementing a ‘new’, non-state model of governance, i.e. ‘democratic confederalism’, which is built on the principles of direct democracy, horizontalism, social ecology, and gender equality, and is presented as an explicit rejection of nationalism and the nation-state. By engaging with the Kurdish diaspora in Germany, this research will examine the transition to a non-state solution to the ‘Kurdish question’, and, as such, will address the following questions:

How does a nationalist movement which has developed its own narratives based on the ultimate aspiration of an independent Kurdistan, transform into a movement which rejects the principles of nationalism and the demand for a sovereign state?

Does the ‘new’ movement require new political discourses and new symbols? And if so, how are they articulated?

What role the diaspora plays in the circulation and implementation of these ideas in Kurdistan? And, how is the ‘non-state solution’ understood by those living in the diaspora? Does living in a relatively safe and stable country impact their view of the state and therefore their view of democratic confederalism?

Whilst specific attention will be paid to the Kurdish movement, and democratic confederalism as an emergent form of political mobilisation, this attempt to move ‘beyond nationalism and the nation-state’ should offer an interesting perspective to consider the nature of nationalism more generally.

Research interests/themes:

Political anthropology; nationalism; ‘new’ social movements, transnational activism; diaspora politics; democratic confederalism; Kurdish nationalism.


Jamie graduated with a BA in Social Anthropology in 2014 at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2016 he obtained an MA in Anthropology (also at QUB) and was awarded the John Blacking Prize for his dissertation ‘The ‘What?’, the ‘Where?’, and the ‘When?’ of ‘Home’: An Ethnographic Engagement with the ‘Community of Displacement’ in Belfast’. Jamie is the holder of a PhD Studentship funded by the Department for the Economy (DFE), registered as a PhD student at the School Of

History, Anthropology, Philosophy And Politics, at QUB. He will be spending most of the academic year 2017/18 in Berlin, conducting ethnographic fieldwork for his current research project but can be contacted at

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