Spotlight on...

"Spotlight on..." Archival Work

GIGA Doctoral Researcher Dastan Jasim recently went to the Institut Kurde in Paris, to do research in their archives for her dissertation. Get to know more about Dastan’s visit to the archive in the interview below.


  • GIGA Doctoral Researcher Dastan Jasim recently went to the Institut Kurde in Paris, to do research in their archives for her dissertation. Get to know more about Dastan’s visit to the archive in the interview below.

    How did you contact the Institute and how did the visit go?

    I first contacted the archive by phone to introduce myself on a more personal basis and then emailed to confirm my first appointment. Above all, it was about getting a first tour with the director Gerard Gautier and being introduced to the system of the archive. The contact was very friendly and really motivating, Mr. Gautier and I hardly got out of the first few hours of talking shop. Especially as someone who works more with quantitative sources, it is also refreshing not only to be in such an archive, but also in such a historical institution. Since I was only recently in the Kurdistan region and got around in many cities with my survey, Mr Gautier was also very interested in my new findings.

    What is special about the archive?

    The Institut Kurde is one of the few international Kurdish independent and impartial educational institutions in the world. Founded in 1983, it is recognized as a non-profit organization and financed by French State funds. Much of this goes back to the presidency of Francois Mitterand, who was considered very pro-Kurdish. The institute was also significantly supported and influenced by major figures in Kurdish politics and culture who had to flee into exile in France, such as Mehdi Zana, the filmmaker Yilmaz Güney, but also current important personalities such as the Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. It houses thousands of works on the subject of Kurdistan from a wide variety of disciplines, in Kurdish. It is thus both an archive about Kurdistan and an archive of Kurdish literature on a wide variety of other topics. It also houses ancient historical written sources from the 19th century, for example, and famous writings of old orientalists who first dealt with the topic of Kurdistan. Mr. Gautier also reported on many large inheritances from important social and political figures in the Kurdish community, which are given directly to the institute and contain rare historical works as well as diaries and notes. In addition, the Institute has many newspaper sources in various languages from across the region. The institute is also in the process of digitizing many sources and making them accessible to people who cannot travel in person. The institute also publishes a literature review that summarizes and presents the latest publications on Kurdistan.

    In what way are the sources important for your dissertation and how will you incorporate them?

    There are many small individual sources that will be helpful for me, especially because I am dealing with political culture and thus also with political mobilization over the past few decades. Contemporary sources that report on strikes, protests, trade union organizations, party organizations and much more are of great interest to me. Although they will not be the focus of my work, I would like to use them to historically underpin my quantitative findings.

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