Call for Papers: Kurdish Artistic Expression, Resistance, and the State

ksa_logo-copyThe Kurdish Studies Association (KSA) announces a call for papers for the November 2016 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting to be held in Boston, November 17-20, 2016. 

This organized panel seeks to explore the relationships between artistic expression, resistance, and the state. Artistic expression is the manifestation of creative imagination through music, song, literature, film, dance, theatre, and many other venues. While many societies consider artistic expression freedom of speech, this is not the case with Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iran, and to some extent Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdish artistic expression has routinely been suppressed; Kurdish artists have been jailed or forced into exile. Kurdish cultural production is viewed as resistance to state policies and frequently labeled as a terrorist activity, particularly in Turkey.

For this special panel we are seeking papers that explore this volatile relationship between Kurdish artistic expression, resistance, and state politics. Some questions that come to mind are: How does the state view Kurdish artistic expression? How is it received by that state? In light of state censorship, how do Kurds use artistic production to promote Kurdish identity? To what extent do Kurds self-censor when creating their art? How has globalization affected cultural production and expression in these states? What creative spaces have been carved out for production and dissemination of Kurdish artistic expression? Given the nature of the relationship between the state and Kurdish expression of identity, some of those artistic spaces are found in the diaspora. Therefore, another question to consider might be: What is the role of Kurdish artists in the diaspora in expressing resistance to state policies?

This panel should be of particular interest to those involved in resistance studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, human rights, and minority rights.

DEADLINE: By February 9, 2016, please send abstracts of 300-400 words for the panel. Include a brief 50-75 word bio. Those selected for the panel will be asked to submit their abstracts to MESA via their online submission system by February 16, 2016. Abstracts for this KSA-sponsored panel should be sent to: KSA Secretary, William Kopycki at

NOTE: All selected panelists must be members of MESA at the time of paper submissions to MESA. Student membership to MESA is $65. Professional membership rates vary according to income. Please do not submit an abstract to us if you are not prepared to join MESA once your abstract has been accepted. For more information about the MESA meeting, go to:

In conjunction with the panel, KSA would like to arrange a Kurdish art exhibition or musical performance at MESA. If you have suggestions, please contact William Kopycki at the above email address.

Organizer and Chair: Christian Sinclair