Zones of Rebellion: Kurdish Insurgents and the Turkish State (with Aysegul Aydin), Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.

Book Description:
How do insurgents and governments select their targets? Which ideological discourses and organizational policies do they adopt to win civilian loyalties and control territory? Aysegul Aydin and Cem Emrence suggest that both insurgents and governments adopt a wide variety of coercive strategies in war environments. In Zones of Rebellion, they integrate Turkish-Ottoman history with social science theory to unveil the long-term policies that continue to inform the distribution of violence in Anatolia. The authors show the astonishing similarity in combatants’ practices over time and their resulting inability to consolidate Kurdish people and territory around their respective political agendas.

The Kurdish insurgency in Turkey is one of the longest-running civil wars in the Middle East. Zones of Rebellion demonstrates for the first time how violence in this conflict has varied geographically. Identifying distinct zones of violence, Aydin and Emrence show why Kurds and Kurdish territories have followed different political trajectories, guaranteeing continued strife between Kurdish insurgents and the Turkish state in an area where armed groups organized along ethnic lines have battled the central state since Ottoman times.

Aydin and Emrence present the first empirical analysis of Kurdish insurgency, relying on original data. These new datasets include information on the location, method, timing, target, and outcome of more than ten thousand insurgent attacks and counterinsurgent operations between 1984 and 2008. Another data set registers civilian unrest in Kurdish urban centers for the same period, including nearly eight hundred incidents ranging from passive resistance to active challenges to Turkey’s security forces. The authors argue that both state agents and insurgents are locked into particular tactics in their conduct of civil war and that the inability of combatants to switch from violence to civic politics leads to a long-running stalemate. Such rigidity blocks negotiations and prevents battlefield victories from being translated into political solutions and lasting agreements.

"It is difficult to mobilize a disgruntled group against the state; even harder is to end the ensuing civil war. In no hurry to compromise, the side that is winning squanders opportunities for a peaceful settlement. Zones of Rebellion develops this insight with reference to the clash in Turkey between the state and Kurdish nationalism. Clearly written, extensively documented, and laced with fascinating new findings, it carries valuable lessons for civil wars around the globe."—Timur Kuran, Duke University, author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East

"Zones of Rebellion offers a significant and original contribution to political science. The book's combination of ecology/geography-based theories and institutionalism and the authors’ faithful adherence to employing those approaches throughout is unique. There is an undeniable elegance to such a disciplined, scholarly presentation of material on an extremely complicated topic."—David Romano, Missouri State University, author of The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Opportunity, Mobilization, and Identity


The Journal of Politics. 2016. 78(2)

H-Net Reviews. October 2016.

Perspectives on Politics. 2016. 14(1): 243-244.

International Affairs. 2015. 91(5): 1182-1184.

Hürriyet Daily News. July 23, 2015.


2017."Killing the Movement: How Islam Became a Rival of Ethnic Movement in Turkey, 1991-2002." Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 41 (with Aysegul Aydin).

Remapping the Ottoman Middle East: Modernity, Imperial Bureaucracy and the Islamic State. London: I.B. Tauris, 2012. 

Paperback Version, 2016.

Turkish Translation. Osmanlı Ortadoğu'sunu Yeniden Düşünmek (Istanbul: İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2016).

Book Description:
Nationalist narratives of the Ottoman Empire's collapse are commonplace. "Remapping the Ottoman Middle East", on the other hand, examines alternative and disparate routes to modernity during the nineteenth century. Pursuing a comparison of different regions of the empire,this book demonstrates that the Ottoman imperial universe was shaped by three distinct and simultaneous narratives: market relations in its coastal areas; imperial bureaucracy in the cities of central Anatolia, Syria and Palestine;and, Islamic trust networks in the frontier regions of the Arabian Peninsula. In weaving together these localized developments, Cem Emrence departs from narratives of state centralism and suggests that a comprehensive way of understanding the late Ottoman world and its legacy should start from exploring regionally-constituted and network-based historical trajectories. Introducing a persuasive new model for understanding the late Ottoman world, this book will be essential reading for historians of the Ottoman Empire.

‘In Remapping the Ottoman Middle East, Cem Emrence analyzes the paradigms in which late Ottoman history has been written. His original contribution is the conceptualisation of the body of work produced in recent decades on social and cultural history, and the analysis of the latter’s linkages to the earlier currents of modernisation and dependency studies. Emrence approaches the relatively new trend under the rubric of bargaining perspectives, repositions its relationship to the centre and ‘macro’ trends, but goes beyond binary constructs such as centre-periphery and state-society by investigating multi-faceted networks on the regional and imperial level. The combination of synthetic and analytical skills Emrence displays in his work is remarkable. He has internalised a vast body of historical literature, which he skilfully and creatively distils through the lens of social scientific concepts and categories.The result is a significant contribution to late Ottoman Studies.’ Hasan Kayalı, Associate Professor of History, University of California.

‘Cem Emrence has an excellent mastery of the historical and theoretical literature,and an elegant and genuinely novel model of the social transformation of imperial populations. He argues that there were parallel but divergent forces in the different geographies of the Ottoman Empire, impelling different forms of negotiation both with the centre and with European imposition. This book is an important contribution to the growing field of the historical sociology of empires and a milestone in Ottoman Studies.’ Caglar Keyder,  Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University, SUNY.


Hürriyet Daily News. July 14, 2016.

Political Studies Review. 2014. 12(1): 167-168.

International Journal of Turkish Studies. 2013. 19 (1/2): 185-188.  

Bustan: The Middle East Book Review. 2013. 4(2): 158-161.

Osmanlı Araştırmaları Dergisi/ The Journal of Ottoman Studies. 2012. 40: 491-497.

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 2012. 75(3): 580-581. 

Middle Eastern Studies. 2012. 48(4): 677-679.            


2008. “Imperial Paths, Big Comparisons: the late Ottoman Empire.” Journal of Global History 3(3): 289-311.

2007. “Three Waves of Late Ottoman Historiography, 1950-2007.” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 41(2): 137-151.

2001. “Istanbul Tramvay’ında Sınıf ve Kimlik, 1871-1922” (Social Class and Identity in the Trams of Istanbul, 1871-1922), Toplumsal Tarih (Social History). 93: 6-13.

99 Günlük Muhalefet: Serbest Cumhuriyet Fırkası (99 Days of Opposition: the Free Republican Party) Istanbul: İletişim, 2006.                                                                                                  

Second Printing, 2014.


Virgül. 2006. 102: 22-24.                         


2003. "Turkey in Economic Crisis, 1927-1930: a Panaromic Vision." Middle Eastern Studies 39(4): 67-80.

2003. “Rearticulating the Local, Regional and the Global: the Greek-Turkish Rapprochement of 1930.” Turkish Studies 4(3):26-46.

2002. "Keeping the Political Elites in Power: Imagining the Free Republican Party of Turkey (1930)." Turkish Studies 3(2): 149-160.

2001. “1930 Belediye Seçimleri ve Baskı Politikası (Methods of Repression in the Municipal Elections of 1930)." Tarih ve Toplum (History and Society) 210: 44-48.

2000. “Politics of Discontent in the Midst of Great Depression:  the Free Republican Party of Turkey (1930).” New Perspectives on Turkey 23: 31-52.

2010. “From Elite Circles to Power Networks: Turkish Soccer Clubs in a Global Age, 1903-2005.” Soccer & Society 11(3): 242-252.
2008. “After Neoliberal Globalization: the Great Transformation of Turkey.” Comparative Sociology 7(1): 51-67.
2007. “Playing with Global City: the Rise and Fall of a Turkish Soccer Team.” Journal of Popular Culture 40(4): 630-642.

2005. “Marksizmden Küreselleşme Okuluna: Spor Sosyolojisi, 1970-2005”,  (“From Marxism to Globalization: Sociology of Sport, 1970-2005”) Toplum ve Bilim (Society & Science), Spor Özel Sayısı (Special Issue on Sports) 103: 93-106.

2004. “Temel Gelir ve Sosyal Güvenlik” (Basic Income and Social Security), Toplum ve Bilim (Society & Science), 100: 143-148.