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Thomas Schmidinger

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Thomas Schmidinger was born in Austria in 1974 and studies political science and social anthropology at the University of Vienna. He teaches now at the University of Vienna and The University of Applied Sciences Oberösterreich. His research topics range from the Kurdish region to Jihadism and Migration. His research in Kurdistan began when he was still a student in 1999, when he visited Rojava the first time. Currently he is working so a book on the Yazidis in Sinjar. Schmidinger is secretary general of the Austrian Association for Kurdish Studies and Co-editor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook. Additional he is advisor of some members of the European Parliament on Kurdish issues. Check out his homepage here. He blogs in German language in the Austrian daily Der Standard. Some of his academic publications are also available on

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The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava
Author: Thomas Schmidinger • Preface: Andrej Grubačić • Translator: Michael Schiffmann
Publisher: PM Press/Kairos
ISBN: 978-1-62963-651-1
Published: 03/01/2019
Format: Paperback
Size: 6x9
Page count: 192
Subjects: Current Events/Middle East

In early 2018, Turkey invaded the autonomous Kurdish region of Afrin in Syria and is currently threatening to ethnically cleanse the region. Between 2012 and 2018, the “Mountain of the Kurds” (Kurd Dagh) as the area has been called for centuries, had been one of the quietest regions in a country otherwise torn by civil war.

After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the Syrian army withdrew from the region in 2012, enabling the Party of Democratic Union (PYD), the Syrian sister party of Abdullah Öcalan’s outlawed Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to first introduce a Kurdish self-administration and then, in 2014, to establish the Canton Afrin as one of the three parts of the heavily Kurdish Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which is better known under the name Rojava.

This self-administration—which had seen multiparty municipal and regionwide elections in the summer and autumn of 2017, which included a far-reaching autonomy for a number of ethnic and religious groups, and which had provided a safe haven for up to 300,000 refugees from other parts of Syria—is now at risk of being annihilated by the Turkish invasion and occupation.

Thomas Schmidinger is one of the very few Europeans to have visited the Canton of Afrin. In this book, he gives an account of the history and the present situation of the region. In a number of interviews, he also gives inhabitants of the region from a variety of ethnicities, religions, political orientations, and walks of life the opportunity to speak for themselves. As things stand now, the book might seem to be in danger of becoming an epitaph for the “Mountain of the Kurds,” but as the author writes, “the battle for the Mountain of the Kurds is far from over yet.


“Preferable to most journalistic accounts that reduce the Rojava revolution to a single narrative. It will remain an informative resource even when the realities have further changed.”
—Martin van Bruinessen, Kurdish Studies on Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria’s Kurds

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Thomas's previous English language books:

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Selected Publications:
ArbeiterInnenbewegung im Sudan
Frankfurt / Wien u.a., 2004

Der Seufzer der bedrängten Kreatur“ Religiös-politischer Widerstand schiitischer Parteien im Irak
in: Kreutzer, Mary / Schmidinger, Thomas (Hg.): Irak – Von der Republik der Angst zur parlamentarischen Demokratie?
Freiburg, 2004
p. 113-135

Tyrants and Terrorists: Reflections on the Connection between Totalitarianism, Neo-liberalism, Civil War and the Failure of the State in Iraq and Sudan. 
Civil Wars, Vol 11, September 2009, Number 3, p. 359 – 379

Looming Shadows. Migration and Integration at a Time of Upheaval. European and American Perspectives. 
(with Vedran Dzihic)
Washington DC, 2011

Unionism and Revolution in the Arab World
in: Friedrich, Wiebke / Schwarz, Christoph / Voigt, Sebastian (eds.): Gewerkschaften im demokratischen Prozess: 10 internationale Beiträge. Trade Unions in the Democratic Process 10 international Contributions. 
Düsseldorf, 2013
p. 27 – 52

Gora. Slawischsprachige Muslime zwischen Kosovo, Albanien, Mazedonien und Diaspora.
Wien, 2013

Politischer Islam in Österreich
in: Floris Biskamp / Stefan E. Hößl (eds.): Islam und Islamismus. Perspektiven für die politische Bildung. Gießen, 2013
p. 85-102

Neuland: Refugees and Austrian Residents Get Connected 
(with Margerita Piatti)
in: Koegler-Abdi, Martina / Parncutt, Richard (Hg.): Interculturality. Practice meets Research.
Newcastel upon Tyne, 2013
p. 109 – 129

The Kurdish Spring in Diaspora? Austria and its Kurds
in: Ahmad, Mohammed M. / Gunter, Michael: The Kurdish Spring. Geopolitical Changes and the Kurds.
Costa Mesa, California, 2013
p. 308 – 338

Krieg und Revolution in Syrisch-Kurdistan
Wien, 2014

Jihadismus. Ideologie, Prävention und Deradikalisierung
Wien, 2015

Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria´s Kurds
London, 2018

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