Review of Kurdish Studies Summer School

2 07 2017


by Sevin Marie Gallo±


This review essay offers analysis of the proceedings of the first ever Kurdish Studies Summer School held in June of 2016 and hosted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester. The review discusses the organisation and structure of the conference, but primarily focuses on the significant themes presented and the different ways student-participants engaged in learning over the three-day program. This review contextualises the conference within the current state-affairs of Kurdish studies as an academic discipline.

Keywords: Area studies; Kurdish studies; program review; pedagogy.


Kurdish studies is a growing field. The success of this journal and the membership and participation in the Kurdish Studies Network (KSN) virtual community and other social media forums attest to the expansion of the discipline and increased scholarly opportunities. However, focus on the Kurds remains somewhat limited and/or tangential in most Middle East Studies centers and across the departments at universities (See Hirschler, 2001; Scalbert-Yücel and Ray, 2006; Klein, 2010; van Bruinessen, 2014). Most academics, outside of the Kurdistan Region, engaged in research that centres on Kurds and Kurdistan, can only dream of what it would be like to study in a program where students take courses in Kurdish languages, and multiple courses on Kurdish history, politics, society, economics, culture, and literature (the University of Exeter and Erfurt University being the obvious exceptions). Working toward filling this void and to serve the demand created by the current boom in Kurdish Studies, Dr. Ipek Demir, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester, created a summer school to allow participants a taste of the benefits of joining a cohort of similarly focused learners to study with and under some of the most experienced scholars and researchers working in Kurdish studies.

At a time when area studies has come under criticism,[1] Kurdish studies continues to carve out space in academia and make the case for increased scholarly focus on the Kurds and Kurdistan as a unique interdisciplinary global project. Kurdish studies has the potential to simultaneously amend the international scholarly record that has neglected the Kurds while contributing to an understanding of the historical and contemporary processes that have systematically curtailed and oppressed Kurds.. On June 27-30, 2016, the University of Leicester’s Department of Sociology hosted the first international Kurdish Studies Summer School titled “Kurdish Politics and Society: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives.” Dr. Ipek Demir, a scholar of Kurdish and Turkish diasporic communities, organised this intensive three-day academic program that brought together renowned scholars, graduate and post-graduate students, activists, journalists, and independent scholars to share and discuss major trends in Kurdish studies.

The school was organised into six thematic focuses taught by leading scholars in their respective subsections of Kurdish studies: “Kurdish Language, Literature, Popular Culture and Folklore in Kurdistan”, “Coercion and Violence in Kurdistan and in the Middle East”, “Kurdish Diaspora”, “The Contemporary Kurdish Movement: Key Questions and Developments”, “Ethics and Challenges of Doing Ethnographic Fieldwork in the Shadow of the Kurdish Question”, and “Gender and Kurdish Studies”.  The days were balanced into sessions taught by the invited lecturers, student research presentations and discussions, and student rapporteurs, who led wrap-up sessions. All aspects of the summer school centred on teaching and learning, setting it apart from a traditional research conference. Even when the day turned to the student research panels that undoubtedly resembled a conference presentation, the experience retained the learning focus of the school. Presenters engaged in a helpful discussion of their work with experienced Kurdish studies professors and an interdisciplinary peer group that summarily reminded me of the very best graduate seminars, with the added benefit of multiple engaged professors offering specialist insights and essential questions. Keeping with the ultimate graduate seminar-like experience, Demir circulated suggested readings assigned by the featured lecturers one month before the summer school. Based on the level of lively, informed participation, students seized this opportunity to come to the table with insight into important debates in the multiple areas discussed over the three-day school.

Professor Christine Allison, Ibrahim Ahmed Chair of Kurdish Studies at the University of Exeter, led the first lecture session dedicated to “Kurdish Language, Literature, Popular Culture and Folklore in Kurdistan”. Expressing an understanding of the diverse scholarly backgrounds of the participants, Allison provided an overview of the history and politics of folklore studies in the Kurdish home-states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, as well as the diverging experience of Kurdish studies in the former Soviet Union, where researching folklore was not policed as an act of nationalist resistance. Then, she discussed how the various representatives of the Kurdish nationalist project have used, perceived, and represented folklore. After spending some time discussing the theory and methods of folkloristic textual analysis, Professor Allison divided the students into two groups tasked to put their new or revived knowledge into practice by examining a text that Allison had recorded in Qosh Teppe, Northern Iraq-Kurdistan. Splitting the students into small groups with a stated task so early on in the program allowed the participants to learn more about one another’s interests and strengths and work together with the common goal of applying folkloristic analysis to Allison’s chosen text, “A Barzani Woman Laments.” Students read the text in Kurmanci and English and focused on the context, the themes and events described in the text, as well as the politics and activism associated with lamenting for/to an audience. Several students were able to draw comparisons between the Barzani woman’s lament and the context and subject of Kurdish dengbêj singers.  Christine Allison’s opening lecture and applied learning activity set the tone for the supportive, collaborative, and challenging learning environment that Demir planned, and indeed continued herself in a lecture and discussion concerning the Kurdish diaspora.

Dr Demir’s presentation on the Kurdish diaspora focused on methods for analysing identity formation in the diaspora, including insights from studies of transnationalism and translation. Demir drew from her research focused on the Kurdish and Turkish diaspora in London. She explained two of her key contributions to diaspora studies, the “diaspora battlespace,” an alternative space where Kurds can create and articulate a narrative of the Kurdish question that is different than the hegemonic Turkish narrative, and “de-Turkification”, the processes of shedding imposed identities brought from home in diaspora. Demir’s explanation of the process and intent of translating Kurdish identity and culture by Kurdish “brokers”, to both British audiences and second-generation Kurds, led to important discussions concerning translation as not only a site of discovery and perhaps understanding, but also of re-writing. Several participants had a visceral experience with identity formation in the diaspora, and the groups spent some time discussing personal and political experiences of the diasporic self. Although the expertise and focus of students and lecturers at the summer school spanned many disciplines and varied between Kurdish languages and regions, the hegemony of scholarship concerning Kurds became a key aspect of analysis among the students throughout the next two days.

Professor Hamit Bozarslan, Director of the Center of Turkish, Ottoman, Balkan and Central Asian Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, lectured on the history of “Violence and Coercion in Kurdistan and the Middle East” on day two. Bozarslan weaved a discussion on historiography and theory concerning violence as a tool for change into the narrative of Kurdish relationships with hegemonic states and imperialism from the late-Ottoman period to the present. The session ended with a lively discussion concerning the authoritarian extremism of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL or IS) compared to the pluralism of Rojava/Syrian Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq. This discussion centred on the relationship and tension between consensus and dissent in democracy and nationalist resistance movements, an intense topic that the group returned to throughout the rest of the conference.

Dr. Ulrike Flader, member of the University of Manchester Sociology Department, presented a survey of the state of the field concerning “The Contemporary Kurdish Movement” that gave students the opportunity to learn and discuss the diverse approaches to examining the spectrum of Kurdish movements. Even the most informed student undoubtedly learned something new or surprising from Flader’s comprehensive lecture that featured key authors and arguments concerning the Kurdish movement in policy studies, historical approaches, cultural politics, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK), women and gender studies, individual or everyday resistance and identity, youth, political parties, and more. Flader followed this survey of the field with a candid discussion of the trials and best practices of fieldwork. To help create a comfortable, empathetic group discussion, Flader requested that the students leave their desks and join her in a circle in the centre of the classroom. The standard, formal classroom setting morphed even further into a supportive, mentoring experience. Flader shared her experiences of doing research in the Kurdish regions of Turkey while studying everyday resistance. She encouraged participants who had completed their field work to tell their stories, too. The discussion and questions focused on the ethics and precautions that are particular to scholars doing fieldwork in the many sites of resistance and conflict associated with Kurdish studies. Participants who were formulating their research plans asked questions concerning access to the field, safety of their informants, how to gain the trust and confidence of their subjects, and how to deal with their own positionality. Participants remarked how meaningful these conversations were. All the participants welcomed this opportunity to discuss these issues with a cohort of students who share these concerns and understand the importance of trying to navigate and situate the Kurdish human rights struggle within their own projects.

On the final day of summer school, Dr. Necla Acik, Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, presented her lecture titled: “Gender and Kurdish studies.” After discussing the politics of representation and the image of the Kurdish woman within nation-building processes, Acik explained how the Kurdish women’s movement in Turkey has undergone major changes from grassroots mobilisation to formal representation in local municipalities and in the national parliament. She started by giving a survey of the existing literature on gender and the Kurds and discussed the activities of the International Kurdish Women’s Studies Network in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as well as Kurdish women’s rights groups in Turkey/North Kurdistan. Instead of simply telling the group about the major concerns and focus of the Kurdish women’s movement, Acik directed a primary source examination of a variety of Kurdish women’s magazines and journals printed in Kurdish, Turkish, English, and German that represented more than three decades of Kurdish feminist activism. She asked students to consider context, language, and change over time, which led to an energetic, evidence-based discussion on transnational feminism, the discourse of the “native informant”, and the relationship between the Kurdish women’s movement and the Kurdish nationalist movement since the 1980s. This discussion flowed neatly into the final sessions of student presenters who similarly focused on women and gender as well as in the school’s concluding session when participants discussed issues of canonisation in Kurdish studies. Demir asked students to reflect on the consequences of the dominance of Kurdish studies scholars from Turkey in this field, as well as the gendered aspects of citation and canonisation in the field of Kurdish studies.

Throughout the duration of the summer school, student presenters, postgraduate students, independent scholars, and journalists, travelling from Mexico, Belgium, Germany, the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and within the U.K., had the opportunity to share their research projects in a panel presentation format that complemented the lecturers’ themes. The friendly and informed audience provided insights from across the disciplines on research topics focused on identity in the diaspora and in diasporic communities in Kurdish home-states, representation of the Kurds by dominant cultures, the impact of the Kurdish women’s rights movement on other hegemonic movements around the world, urban planning in Kurdistan, regional security studies, and the politics of “official languages” in Kurdistan. Most presenters had some conference experience, but remarked on the differences between a conference presentation and a summer school research presentation. Most participants were thrilled to finally be in a group of students, regardless of their various phases of research, who shared a common focus on the Kurds and Kurdistan. They were eager to discuss their work and receive feedback from an informed and understanding peer group, as well as from the experts in the field who were participating in a teacher/mentor role. The community-building aspect of the school was very successful and participants were delighted to carry on these work-related discussions at dinner or in the pub each evening following class.

On the final day, students were quick to ask Demir if she planned to organise another summer school, underscoring the significant value of the project for students and early-career scholars. The students built contacts and friendships that they planned to foster in future research adventures. They shared dissertation chapters and contacts at research centres and in the field. Students from around the world made plans to travel together to the Kurdish Cultural Centre and Kurdish Community Centre while in the U.K., and immediately formed their own Google group to maintain the important conversations and relationships sparked at the first-ever Kurdish Studies Summer School.

Programs like Demir’s summer school will ensure that the field continues to grow in rewarding ways, even in the current environment where access to the field is often a considerable challenge. The field of Kurdish studies has grown exponentially in the last decade, particularly in relation to the existence of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. The KRG has supported Kurdish studies inside the region and supplied financial support for international programs like The University of Exeter’s Center for Kurdish Studies, the World Kurdish Congress, and The University of Erfurt’s Mustafa Barzani Research Center for Kurdish Studies. However, with persistent economic and military crisis in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria, continued funds for these programs from the KRG are not secured.

The earlier success of the KRG coincided with the seemingly brief experiment in the democratisation of education in Turkey. However, steeply rising authoritarianism in recent years has impeded the work of Kurdish studies scholars in Turkey. Despite many obstacles from Turkish nationalists and the state, Kurdish studies in Turkey had been growing since the late 1990s, and as recently as 2014 academic publications and journalism concerning Kurds, appeared to be on pace to match or possibly even outnumber those coming from Europe, the dominant centre of Kurdish studies over the last century (van Bruinessen, 2014). However, this tacit optimism proved to be very short lived. The devastating academic purges and the state takeover of much of the independent press has, once again, made researching and publishing anything that runs counter to the dominant state narrative concerning the Kurds nearly impossible inside Turkey (Akkoyunlu, 2017). Geopolitics in all regions of Kurdistan has continued to underscore the critical need for alternative spaces for academic freedom and scholarly association.

The success of the journal Kurdish Studies, in addition to the growing social media networks, and established Kurdish institutes and libraries, created a common space for a rather far-flung scholarly community, and helped develop the demand for an arena for young scholars across the disciplines to broaden their knowledge of the Kurdish past and present. The Sociology Department at the University of Leicester provided the structure and dedicated space for these early-career scholars to form an active learning community. The participants benefitted from the experience and teaching of multiple senior lecturers in this intensive, accelerated forum that was ultimately a resounding success.

Fortunately, Demir is organising another summer school in July 2017 at the Kurdish Institute in Paris. More information on the 2017 Kurdish Studies Summer School can be found at: 01/25/kurdish-studies-summer-school-2/.



Akkoyunlu, K. (2017, March 17). As Turkey’s Academia Faces Desolation, A Call for Solidarity for Imperiled Scholars. Huffington Post, URL: http://www.

Hirschler, K. (2001).  Defining the Nation: Kurdish Historiography in Turkey in the 1990s. Middle Eastern Studies, 37(3), 145–166.

Jayasuriya, K. (2015). Beyond the culturalist problematic: Towards a global social science in the Asian Century? In Johnson C., Mackie V., & Morris-Suzuki T. (Eds.), The Social Sciences in the Asian Century. Canberra, ANU Press. 81-96.

Klein, J. (2010). Minorities, Statelessness, and Kurdish Studies Today: Prospects and Dilemmas for scholars. Journal of Ottoman Studies/Osmanlı Araştırmaları Dergisi, special issue in honor of Rifa’at Abou-el-Haj, 225-237.

Scalbert-Yücel, C. and Le Ray, M. (2006). Knowledge, Ideology and Power: Deconstructing Kurdish Studies. European Journal of Turkish Studies, 5, URL:

Swantzon, D. (2004). The Politics of Knowledge: Area Studies and the Disciplines. Los Angeles and Berkley: University of California Press.

University of Leicester Department of Sociology (2016).  Kurdish Studies Summer School, 27-29 June 2016, URL: sociology/ research/conferences-and-workshops/kurdish-studies-summer-school.

Van Bruinessen. M. (2014). Kurdish Studies in Western and Central Europe. Weiner Jarbruch für Kurdische Studien, 2, 18-96.

Zürcher E.-J. (2007). Region or discipline? The debate about area studies. Groen A. in ‘t, Jonge H.J. de, Klasen E., Papma H., Slooten P. van (Eds.) Knowledge in Ferment. Dilemmas in Science, Scholarship and Society. Leiden, Leiden University Press. 243-256.



± Dr Sevin M. Gallo, Assistant Professor of World History and Global Studies Degree Coordinator at Northwest Arkansas Community College, 1 College Dr, Bentonville, AR 72712, USA. E-mail:

[1] See Kanishka Jayasuriya (2015) “Beyond the culturalist problematic: Towards a global social science in the Asian Century?” in The Social Sciences in the Asian Century for a discussion of the multiple critiques of traditional area studies programs. Jayasuriya offers insights into the ways in which advocates for area studies have responded to criticism and continue to assert their relevance when many cultural definitions of place or territoriality seem increasingly problematic in a globalized world.  See also Erik Zürcher’s (2007) “Region or discipline? The debate about area studies” and David Szanton’s (2004) The Politics of Knowledge: Area Studies and the Disciplines.

New Book Out: Comparative Kurdish Politics in the Middle East

21 06 2017

Tugdar, Emil Elif & Al, Serhun (eds)

Palgrave Macmillan, 2017

ISBN: 978-3-319-53714-6

This edited volume introduces the political, social and economic intra-Kurdish dynamics in the Middle East by comparatively analyzing the main actors, their ideas, and political interests. As an ethnic group and a nation in the making, Kurds are not homogeneous and united but rather the Kurdish Middle East is home to various competing political groups, leaderships, ideologies, and interests. Although many existing studies focus on the Kurds and their relations with the nation-states that they populate, few studies analyze the Kurdish Middle East within its own debates, conflicts and interests from a comparative perspective across Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. This book analyzes the intra-Kurdish dynamics with historically-grounded, theoretically-informed, and conceptually-relevant scholarship that prioritizes comparative politics over international relations.

For details click here.

New Book Out: The Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition: From Oral to Written

19 06 2017

Omarkhali, Khanna

Harrossowitz Verlag, 2017 

ISBN: 978-3-447-10856-0


Public and academic interest in the Yezidis, their religion and culture, has increased greatly in recent years. The study of Yezidism has also made considerable progress in recent decades. Still, several lacunae in our knowledge remain, notably concerning many concrete aspects of the textual tradition. These gaps are due in part to the fact that many elements of religious knowledge are generally not revealed to non-Yezidis. Khanna Omarkhali, a highly qualified academic who also stems from a respected Yezidi family of religious leaders (Pir), has had unique opportunities to investigate such aspects of the Yezidi tradition.
This book is a comprehensive study of the Yezidi religious textual tradition, containing descriptions of many hitherto unknown aspects of the oral transmission of Yezidi religious knowledge. It presents a detailed account of the ‘mechanisms’ underlying various aspects of the tradition. It shows how the religious textual tradition functioned – and to a certain degree still does – in its pre-modern way, and also describes the transformations it is currently undergoing, including the issues and processes involved in the increasing trend to commit religious knowledge to writing, and indeed to create a written canon.
The work contains several hitherto unpublished texts and the most comprehensive survey to date of the extant Yezidi sacred texts. It includes four maps, a glossary of terms and a list of Yezidi lineages, and is accompanied by a CD with an extensive collection of recordings of texts (208 minutes).


For details click here.

Call for Abstracts: Special Issue on Women and War

4 06 2017

Kurdish Studies invites academics, policy makers, activists, and students to submit high quality academic papers on the topic Women and War. Over the last years Kurdish women have become highly visible in international media coverage through different types of images. Images of female guerrilla fighters, of women in leading positions, of women in captivity of the Islamic State, of women as victims of state and communal violence, escaping war and arriving as refugees in Europe and elsewhere, have circulated widely.

Gendered analyses of war show that women are often differently affected by war, violence, and displacement than men. Studies also show that war can be seen as a time in which existing social structures are turned upside down and may be (temporarily) replaced by others. Consequently, traditional gender-relations, existing ties and social norms are challenged. This may make women vulnerable to further violence and discrimination, or, alternatively, it may open up new spaces of opportunities to women.

What is more, in the current developments in Kurdistan, most notably in Rojava (Kurdistan- Syria) and in Bakur (Kurdistan-Turkey), women are actively involved both in warfare as well as in the political process. But even if many women take up such roles, there may be many others who do not have such endeavours.

The Kurdish Studies Journal wishes to contribute to critical and empirical based analyses of the present realities of Kurdish women in all parts of Kurdistan, along with their representation as well as images that circulate about them in the international media.

Kurdish Studies invites contributions from all disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences that relate to women and war in Kurdistan. Submissions can be in the form of research papers, theoretical or conceptual papers, commentaries, review articles and book reviews. As a general guide, full research papers should be around 8,000-9,000 words and book reviews around 800-1,000 words. Please feel free to circulate this call for papers.

Deadlines: please submit a 250-500 word abstract before July 10, 2017. We will invite the authors of the most promising abstracts to contribute. The article deadline will be October 31, 2017.

Guest editors for this special issue are: Nazand Begikhani (University of Bristol), Nerina Weiss (Fafo Oslo), Wendy Hamelink (University of Oslo).

Please submit through where you will also see author guidelines and can register. For the content of previous issues please see: Kurdish Studies journal is published twice a year in May and October. The publication of the special issue about Women and War is planned for May 2018.

Kurdish Studies is an interdisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing high quality research and scholarship in the field of Kurdish Studies. Launched in 2013, the Kurdish Studies journal aims to contribute to and revitalise research, scholarship, and debates in this field in a multidisciplinary fashion. The journal embraces a wide range of topics including but not limited to politics, history, society, gender, minorities, health, law, environment, economics, language, media, culture, arts, and education.

Cfa women and war KSJ (.pdf)

New Issue of Kurdish Studies Out

28 05 2017

Kurdish Studies, Volume 5, Issue 1, May 2017 



On the frontiers of empire: Culture and power in early modern “Iranian” Kurdistan
Djene Rhys Bajalan


What’s old is new again: A study of sources in the Šarafnāma of Šaraf Xān Bidlīsī (1005-7/1596-99)
Sacha Alsancakli

The literary legacy of the Ardalans
Farangis Ghaderi

History of Ardalānids (1590-1810) by Sharaf al-Dīn bin Shams al-Dīn
Sara Zandi Karimi

Review: Islam and politics in Iranian Kurdistan at a time of revolution: the life of Ahmad Moftizadeh
Martin van Bruinessen

Book Reviews 
Eve Hepburn (ed.), New Challenges for Stateless Nationalist and Regionalist Parties, London: Routledge, 2011.
Reviewed by Ebubekir Isik
Paul White, The PKK: Coming Down From the Mountains, London: Zed Books, 2015.
Reviewed by Cengiz Gunes
Ibrahim Sirkeci, Jeffrey H Cohen & Pinar Yazgan (eds.), Conflict, Insecurity and Mobility, Transnational Press London, London, 2016.
Reviewed by Liza Mugge
Janroj Yilmaz Keles, Media, Diaspora and Conflict: Nationalism and Identity Amongst Turkish and Kurdish Migrants in Europe, London: I.B. Tauris, 2015.
Reviewed by Kevin Smets
Abdullah Öcalan, The Political Thought of Abdullah Öcalan, Kurdistan, Woman’s Revolution, and Democratic Confederalism, London: Pluto Press, 2017.
Reviewed by Joost Jongerden
Mustafa Aydogan, Rêbera Rastnivîsînê, Istanbul: Rûpel, 2012.
Reviewed by Ergin Opengin



Welat Zeydanlioglu

Managing Editor

Kurdish Studies is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

ISSN: 2051-4883 e-ISNN: 2051-4891

Conference: The U.S. – Kurdish Collaboration in the Course of Reshaping the Middle East

25 05 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017, 9:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m., The National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045

Conference Schedule:

 9:45 am   Registration

10:10 am   Opening Remarks by Deniz Ekici, Executive Director, Kurdish Policy Research Center

 10:15 am – 11:45 am

Panel 1: Iran’s Internal Repression Overshadowed by Its Interventionist Foreign Policy


Ardishir Rashidi, Founder and President, Kurdish-American Education Society

 Rebuar Reshid, Co-President, Kurdistan National Congress

 Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

 Moderator: Samira Ghaderi, Juris Doctor, International Affairs Expert

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Panel 2: The Changing Dynamics of Rojava in the Syrian Civil War


Salih Muslim, Co-Chair, Democratic Union Party *via Skype

 Bassam Ishaq, President, Syriac National Council of Syria

 Brandon H. Wheeler, Executive Director, Freedom Research Foundation

 Moderator: Deniz Ekici, Executive Director, Kurdish Policy Research Center

2:45 pm – 4:15 pm

Panel 3: Turkey’s Deteriorating Governance and the Implication on the Kurds


 Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

 Hisyar Ozsoy, Vice Co-Chair, The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

 Dirayet Taşdemir, Member of Parliament, The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

 Moderator: Aliza Marcus, Writer and expert on Kurdish issue


Deniz Ekici

Deniz Ekici is the Executive Director at Kurdish Policy Research Center. He holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Center for Kurdish Studies at the University of Exeter and an M.A. degree in Political Science from Brooklyn College, CUNY. He is a former visiting professor at Middle Tennessee State University where he taught such courses as Intro to the Middle East, Media in the Middle East, Nationalism in the Middle East, Kurdish Culture and Society and Kurdish Language Courses.

Aykan Erdemir

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member of the Turkish Parliament. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014) as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. In 2016, Dr. Erdemir was awarded the Stefanus Prize for Religious Freedom in recognition of his advocacy for minority rights and religious freedoms.

Samira Ghaderi

Samira Ghaderi holds a Juris Doctor and a Master’s in International Affairs from American University in Washington D.C. She has worked at Greenberg Traurig, LLP, assisting with legal and policy advice for the Kurdistan Regional Government. She has also worked at the Public International Law and Policy Group, where she focused on transitional justice, post-conflict constitution drafting & justice sector reform. In addition, she was a co-director of the American University’s International Refugee Assistance Project chapter, where she assisted Iraqi and Syrian refugees with resettlement in the United States.

Bassam Ishak

Bassam Ishak is a Syrian opposition activist and the president of the Syriac National Council of Syria. He is the former executive director of the Syrian Human Rights Organization, a founder of the Syrian National Council, and a former member of the council’s general secretariat. Bassam is a native Hassakeh in northeast Syria. He earned his M.A. in ethno-political conflict management from Royal Roads University in Canada, and a B.S. in civil engineering.

Aliza Marcus

Aliza Marcus is formerly an international correspondent for The Boston Globe and lives in Washington, D.C. She covered the PKK for more than eight years, first as a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor and later as a staff writer for Reuters, receiving a National Press Club Award for her reporting. She is also a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant for her work (NYU Press).

Salih Muslim

Salih Muslim is the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). He is also the deputy coordinator of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.

Hisyar Ozsoy

Mr. Ozsoy is currently serving as the Vice Co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in charge of Foreign Affairs and as a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT). He holds a B.A. in Sociology with distinction from Bogazici University and a M.A. and a Ph.D. in political anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former assistant professor at the University of Michigan-Flint where he taught courses in political sociology, political anthropology, social and political transformations as well as courses on Middle Eastern cultures, histories and politics.

Ardishir Rashidi

Mr. Ardishir Rashidi is a System and Products Design and Analysis Engineer. He is a founder of the Kurdish-American Education Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational information on Kurdish history. He also served as the Regional Director and as a National Board Member of the United Nations Association of the United States of America.

 Rebuar Reshid

Mr. Rebuar Reshid is the Co-chair of the Kurdistan National Congress and a human rights activist. He holds a Bachelor degree in Social and Political Science from Stockholm University. Mr. Rashed is an author of numbers of articles on gender equality, democracy, corruption, racism and anti-Semitism.

Michael Rubin

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations; and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He received a B.S. degree in biology from Yale University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in history from the same institution in 1999. He has previously worked as a lecturer in history at Yale University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and at three different universities in northern Iraq. Rubin currently provides academic instruction on regional issues for senior U.S. Army and Marine officers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dirayet Tasdemir

Ms. Dirayet Tasdemir is a Kurdish politician and a member of the Turkish Parliament for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). As a longtime women’s rights activist, she served as an advisor at Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality.

Brandon H. Wheeler

Mr. Brandon H. Wheeler, is the  Executive Director of the Freedom Foundation. As a former marine he served in various places in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. His expertise is in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare. He regularly briefs the members of the congress, ambassadors and other diplomats. He lived in Syria for many years where he studied Arabic. After the rise of ISIS  he made numerous trips into Syria and Iraq and consulted leaders of Rojava and the KRG officials.

For details click here.

Summer Language Workshop: Intensive 1st and 2nd Year Kurdish

16 04 2017