Even from Canada, Dr. Rahim Surkhi of Iran is preserving his native Kurdish language in his home region. Driven by a fierce dedication to his Kurdish heritage, he has been a lifelong leader in voicing linguistic and cultural minority issues in academia, media, and civil society.
Dr. Surkhi is undertaking his IIE-SRF fellowship at Carleton University, where he is a Scholars at Risk visiting professor. At Carleton, his research has focused on Kurdish ethnicity and culture, applied and educational linguistics, and education policy. He is currently working on “The Central Kurdish Dialects and Sub-Dialects Project,” through which he seeks to encourage Kurdish language instruction in schools in Iraqi Kurdistan, and he recently co-authored a book chapter entitled “Lexical Variation Across Kurdish Varieties” with Dr. Jaffer Sheyholislami. The chapter examines how lexical variation in Kurdish-speaking regions is connected to environmental, historical, and socio-political factors.
In addition, Dr. Surkhi is working to expand the Kurdish language’s reach and utility in the Middle East. In 2018, he edited two textbooks written in Kurdish and developed research on the linguistic landscape in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. This research investigates the usage of different languages on thousands of private and public signs in Erbil, including Kurdish (native and local language), Arabic (state language), and English (international language), as well as two minority languages.
Before joining Carleton University, Dr. Surkhi was an assistant professor of linguistics at Salahaddin University in Erbil. He is the author of multiple books, such as Critical Discourse Analysis of Kurdish Journalism (1918-1932) and The Process of Mass Communication (Language, Model & Methodology).
In September 2018, Dr. Surkhi gave a talk at his host university, arranged by Carleton Scholars at Risk, alongside IIE-SRF acting director Emily Borzcik and IIE-SRF fellow Dr. Mustafa Bahran of Yemen, also hosted at Carleton.