The Monitor's View Lessons in identity from Kurds and Catalans

Coming votes for independence in Kurdish Iraq and Spain’s Catalonia represent a challenge of shifting identity in the 21st century. Both peoples must be careful in defining a new collective ‘self.’

AP Photo

One of the defining challenges in the 21st century has been how to balance demands for independence by certain peoples with the sanctity of national borders. Just in the coming days alone, two regions with distinct identities, Catalonia in Spain and the Kurdish area in Iraq, plan to stage referendums on independence. The outcomes are uncertain, especially in whether they can keep the peace. Yet they may help set a measure of the meaning of “self” in that 20th-century notion of self-determination.