Call for Papers: Between Loyalty and Critique: Moral and Political Dilemmas in Contemporary Northern Kurdistan and Beyond

6 04 2016

Logo_of_the_American_Anthropological_AssociationBetween loyalty and critique: Moral and political dilemmas in contemporary Northern Kurdistan and beyond, 115th American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, November 16-20, 2016, Minneapolis, USA.

Situated at the heart of the violent transformations the Middle East is currently undergoing, the Kurdish political movement has recently enjoyed unprecedented international attention. Yet even though it has only recently been ‘discovered’ by international audiences, the Kurdish movement has in fact for decades been invested in the creation of alternative subjectivities, socialities, and living spaces. In this session, we seek to take a close ethnographic look at the life worlds the Kurdish movement has successfully produced. Recognizing the centrality of gendered logics in the construction of those life worlds, we ask what happens when resistance becomes hegemonic. What sorts of gendered dilemmas does the institutionalisation of resistance produce, and how do subjects manoeuvre the resulting moral and political terrains? Our point of departure is the Kurdish movement in Turkey, yet we welcome contributions with parallel questions in contexts where radical movements have become hegemonic.

Feminist scholarship on the anthropology of war and violence has complicated categories of victimhood and trauma (Helms 2013; Visweswaran 2013), critically interrogated the connections between nationalism and feminism (Al-Ali and Pratt 2011; Çağlayan 2013), and pointed to gender and agency beyond the liberal paradigm (Åhäll and Shepherd 2012). Inspired by these lines of inquiry, we invite a shift of focus in the anthropological study of resistance in Northern Kurdistan and other contexts of on-going violence and occupation. Existing literature in this field focuses on political violence primarily as productive of subjects and discourses of suffering, trauma and victimhood. This focus, however, risks limiting our understanding of resistance as it comes to be directed not only against oppressive states but also against oppositional movements. Rather than asking how political violence produces structures of suffering, here we therefore ask how it creates patterns of loyalty and how such loyalty, in turn, engenders its own critiques. Attending to gender as an analytical tool to examine moral registers is particularly well suited, we suggest, for understanding the dilemmas resulting from these tensions between loyalty and critique.

This session seeks to shed light on dynamic political spheres in contexts of ongoing or recent violent conflict and the intense contestations over the meaning of political, moral, and ethno-national identifications characterising them. We invite contributions exploring – but not limited to – the following questions: What sorts of dilemmas emerge when oppositional movements become hegemonic? How do discourses of political loyalty engender their own specific forms of critique? How are resulting dilemmas negotiated and experienced? How does the intense politicization of public and private spaces create or foreclose possibilities for carving out autonomous spaces beyond two opposing political fronts? In accord with this year’s meeting theme, we also ask, how do gendered dilemmas, as responses to ever-shifting political paradigms and fluctuations in values, produce or disclose political action?What sort of challenges do gendered dilemmas bring to political and national projects and how might they lead to innovative and creative political articulations? Finally, how might dilemmas be resolved?

Please email your paper abstracts (max. 250 words) by April 7 to Esin Düzel and Marlene Schäfers



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