Call for papers for panel(s) on: Kurdish Migration and Borderlands

9 03 2013

Areas of large Kurdish population in red

Kurdish Migration and Borderlands: Rethinking Borders, Boundaries, Crossings and Mobility

Special Session Conveners:

Dr Welat Zeydanlıoğlu, Kurdish Studies Network, Sweden

Dr Cengiz Güneş, Open University, UK

30 May – 1 June 2014 | Regent’s College London

Sponsored by the Kurdish Studies Network

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Regent’s Centre for Transnational Studies invites scholars, researchers, students, policy makers and media to this interdisciplinary conference on migration to Turkey, from Turkey, and in Turkey. The conference will be held at Regent’s College campus in Regent’s Park, London, UK from 30th May to 1st June 2014.

The panel “Kurdish migration and borderlands” aims to draw attention to the fundamental role of borders, boundaries, crossings and zones in Kurdish geography, mobility and existence. From the age of empires to the age of nation-states, the lands Kurds and others have traditionally inhabited have been violently divided by borders, boundaries and militarized zones of systematic state-violence, displacement and population engineering. These have had a defining role on Kurdish life, inscribing itself on to all aspects of Kurdish society, culture, identity, history, economy, environment, politics, language and struggle for recognition and self-rule. For example, Kurdish regional and “domestic” trading was transformed into “illegal” activity for many Kurds with the establishment of the national borders of Turkey, Syria and Iraq, forcing them into the “criminal” activity of “smuggling” for survival across these internationally recognized and sanctioned borders, criminalizing their means of survival. Villages, tribes, nomads and families were often divided by borders, boundaries and zones, resulting in internal and external Kurdish migration. The division of Kurdistan turned the dominant Kurmanci dialect of Kurdish into a “minority” language in several countries. This division has dispersed the Kurds around the world substantially expanding the transnational Kurdish geography towards Europe and North America.

Thus, existing, surviving, interacting inside, outside, beyond borders, crossings, zones of emergency rule but also transgressing, reaching, breaching, interacting, collaborating through these borders, zones and crossings have all been aspects of this reality. These challenges have impeded but also been utilized, at times creating opportunities, given way to new means of existing, persisting, communicating, struggling, mobilizing, collaborating and overcoming physical, symbolic and discursive borders. Of interest is also how these borderlands have impacted Kurdish mobilization and migration “internally” and “externally”, where they have had to survive new borders and boundaries in exile and diaspora. Of interest is also increasing levels of Kurdish self-rule and confidence in the Middle East at a time when old certainties disappear, boundaries and borders shift, regimes collapse, revolutions travel, the flow of information, people, goods, technology and capital accelerate faster than ever and their impact on internal and external “borders”; cultural, political, linguistic or economical.

We particularly encourage comparative and interdisciplinary papers focusing on the following issues, with regards to Kurds, Kurdistan and the Kurdish diaspora, though submissions on any relevant area of interest are welcome:

  • Borders, crossings, zones
  • Borders, displacement, asylum and inter(national)migration
  • Borders, regions and language
  • Nationalism, ethnicity and borders
  • Checkpoints, minefields and militarized geographies
  • Cultural cross-fertilization across borders
  • State boundaries and sovereignty • Gender and borders
  • Religion and borders
  • Education and borders
  • Borders, arts and literature
  • Statelessness, mobility and conflict
  • Borders and education
  • Borders, mobility and trade
  • Politics of smuggling
  • Sexuality, health, children and borders
  • Environment and borders

For any queries please contact the special session(s) conveners:

  • Dr Welat Zeydanlioglu @ welatzeydan [at] or
  • Dr Cengiz Gunes @ cgunes07 [at]

Submission Guidelines: abstract (max. 300 words) and a full paper or extended abstract.

Important Deadlines:

  • 3 September 2013, Tuesday: Submission of abstracts (300 words) and session proposals.
  • 29 October 2013, Tuesday: Author notifications
  • 15 January 2014, Wednesday: Submission of full papers.
  • 28 March 2014: Early Bird Full Conference Registration deadline
  • 9 May 2014, Friday: Final Registration deadline



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