Mimicry and substitution in the logic of sovereignty: the case of PYD


This study aims to explain how a segment Kurdish nationalists in Syria imitates and substitutes the Westphalian conception of sovereign statehood in Syria. It argues that the Partiya Yekîtiya Democrat (PYD-an offshoot of the PKK in Syria) establishes its rule both by mimicking and substituting modern tools of state-making. The study identifies a three-pronged political-military strategy used at the local, regional and international levels. It shows that facing existential challenges from local non-state competitors and regional predatory states, the PYD's main approach has been mimicking the modern state where possible and substituting the lack of legitimate rule and sovereignty with a set of political and global support networks. The study lastly shows how the PYD's logic in mimicking the modern state practices is ultimately dependent on the support particularly from great powers such as the USA and reactions from the regional powers such as Turkey. Overall, the study examines how the fluctuations in the logic of the PYD stems from its mimicry and substitution of the modern state conduct such as survival strategies, foreign practices and identity politics that interweave and cut across the conventional state, sovereignty, geopolitics and territoriality.


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