Helin Unal 2020

USA, Ph.D. Student, Social Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA, M.S., Political Psychology, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Examining the Complexity of Collective Victim Beliefs in the Context of Kurdish Diaspora: Implications for Attitudes towards Peace and Conflict

Helin Unal

Project Description

The main goal of this project is to examine the link between collective victim beliefs and collective action strategies in the context of the Kurdish diaspora. Models of collective action assume grievances as the starting point for activism, but without examining how exactly these grievances are construed (e.g., van Zomeren et al., 2012). Anecdotal evidence and case studies from history and political science suggest that certain types of collective victim beliefs such as inclusive victim consciousness are linked to activism on behalf of other victim groups (Vollhardt, 2015). A recent study in the context of historical Japanese colonization in Korea examined other collective victim beliefs and showed that perceived denial of the ingroup’s victimization by the perpetrator group, as well as the perceived importance of preserving memories of the ingroup’s victimization, predicted support for collective action (e.g., protests) against the perpetrator group (Jeong & Vollhardt, 2020). Building on the previous studies, more research on the links between collective victim beliefs and activism is therefore needed, included in such relevant but understudied contexts as the Kurdish diaspora. Overall, this study aims to provide a broader picture of the complexity of collective victim beliefs, taking into account multi-faceted experiences of collective victimization that include not only conflict and repression but also immigration and refugee experiences, and that can create barriers to the peace and reconciliation process (Bar-Tal, 2000).

Helin Unal Bio

Helin Unal received a Master of science in political psychology from Queen’s University Belfast. She is currently a doctoral student in the social psychology program at Clark University. Her current research interests involve collective victim beliefs, resistance, and diaspora groups’ identity and conflict attitudes. She uses multiple methodologies, including qualitative methods and Q-methodology, and studies numerous contexts in her research.