Call for Workshop: Emancipatory Transformations – Engaging Radical Democracy in Kurdistan

5 09 2016

institution-159-Sussex3-4 November 2016, University of Sussex

The many conflicts ravaging the Middle East pose profound questions regarding seemingly intractable and intersecting questions of democracy, political and ethnic pluralism, gender oppression, and ecological despoliation; questions that confront not only the region, but in varying forms, the entire world. As such, they highlight common challenges for humanity. These questions have received some radical and innovative answers in Rojava (Western/Syrian Kurdistan) where an ambitious project of radical democracy and social justice is being implemented despite formidable challenges, including a total war against ISIS.
Central to this project are the principles of democratic confederalism, plurinationalism, revolutionary feminism and social ecology as integral dimensions of the radical wing of the wider Kurdish freedom movement. The Rojava revolution therefore represents a novel form of emancipatory praxis that has profound implications for the region and beyond. Its attempted conjunction of direct democracy, communal economy, gender equality and ecological consciousness under the most unfavourable local and regional conditions in a region ravaged by sectarian conflict calls for engaged and critical dialogue by academics and activists. This is necessary in order to address both its achievements and limitations, to unearth and engage with many questions that remain suspended between a precarious present and uncertain future, and to ask what broader lessons it holds for our understanding of transformative democratic practice in the Middle East and beyond.
This two-day workshop aims to bring together a diverse group of researchers and activists to mutually learn, explore, share, and think of future possibilities for direct democracy and democratic confederalism through the examination of real-world grounded examples from contemporary movements in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) and Bakur (Northern Kurdistan), with careful consideration of the historical context and dynamics of contemporary and past struggles and challenges.
We invite submissions and expressions of interest in participation from researchers, activists, visual artists, filmmakers and others that explore these transformations through a focus on grounded perspectives and practices, situated in broader social, historical, political and ecological context. Specific thematic foci for presentations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Democracy and democratic confederalism
  • Gender and women’s movements
  • Pluralism in political practice
  • Economic transformations
  • Social / political ecology
  • Solidarity across social movements within the region or across the world
The workshop will be convened on 3-4 November 2016 in Brighton, UK and at the University of Sussex through collaboration between the ESRC STEPS Centre (, members of the Sussex Kurdish Community and members of the UK-based Kurdish Solidarity activist community. Travel assistance is available for workshop participants on the basis of need. Abstract submissions for paper presentations, visual exhibitions, film viewings or other presentation formats should include the following information:
  • Title of presentation
  • Presenter name, affiliation (if applicable) and contact details
  • Type of presentation (e.g. paper, visual art / photography, etc.)
  • Up to five key words / themes
  • Abstract / presentation description of no more than 500 words
  • Proposals based on original audio-visual work may also include a sample, either as a URL linking to media, or as images embedded in a Word or PDF document
  • A brief statement of need if you wish to be considered for travel assistance.


These should be submitted to Harriet Dudley ( no later than 16 September 2016, and selected participants will be notified no later than 30 September 2016.

Discussion: Spotlight on the Kurds

28 08 2016

cpd-logo-headerUniversity of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication, Room 207, September 29, 2016, 5 pm-7:30 pm.

Join Professor Amir Sharifi of CSU Long Beach and Professor Asli Bâli of UCLA for a discussion of current Kurdish politics at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. The speakers will focus in particular on the Turkish government’s responses to Kurdish public diplomacy efforts. Evîn Cheikosman, M.A. Candidate in the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, will moderate the discussion.

Amir Sharifi is the Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group, President of the Kurdish American Education Society and Lecturer of Linguistics at California State University, Long Beach.

Ali Bali is a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law. She teaches Public International Law, International Human Rights and a seminar on the Laws of War. She joined UCLA from the Yale Law School where she was the Irving S. Ribicoff Fellow in Law, and coordinator of the Middle East Legal Forum.

The event will be held in ASC 207. Refreshments will be served. To join the event, click here.


New Book Out: A Road Unforeseen – Women Fight the Islamic State

2 08 2016

ROAD-UNFORESEEN-by-Meredith-Tax-9781942658108Tax, Meredith

Trade Paper, 2016

ISBN: 9781942658108

In war-torn northern Syria, a democratic society—based on secularism, ethnic inclusiveness, and gender equality—has won significant victories against the Islamic State, or Daesh, with women on the front lines as fierce warriors and leaders.

A Road Unforeseen recounts the dramatic, underreported history of the Rojava Kurds, whose all-women militia was instrumental in the perilous mountaintop rescue of tens of thousands of civilians besieged in Iraq. Up to that point, the Islamic State had seemed invincible. Yet these women helped vanquish them, bringing the first half of the refugees to safety within twenty-four hours.

Who are the revolutionary women of Rojava and what lessons can we learn from their heroic story? How does their political philosophy differ from that of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Islamic State, and Turkey? And will the politics of the twenty-first century be shaped by the opposition between these political models?

For details click here.


New Book Out: Iraqi Kurdistan in Middle Eastern Politics

3 07 2016

9781138204478Danilovich, Alex 

Routledge, 2017

ISBN 9781138204478

The changes brought by the Arab Spring and ensuing developments in the Middle East have made the Kurds an important force in the region. Tel-Aviv and Washington place high hopes on Erbil to facilitate their dealings with Baghdad, Damascus, Teheran and Ankara. Kurds living in Turkey, Syria and Iran have been inspired by the successes of their brethren in Iraq who managed to gain significant independence and make remarkable achievements in state building. The idea of a greater Kurdistan is in the air. This book focuses on how the Kurds have become a new and significant force in Middle Eastern politics. International expert contributors conceptualize current developments putting them into theoretical perspective, helping us to better understand the potential role the Kurds could play in the Middle East.

For details click here.


New Book Out: Political Violence and Kurds in Turkey – Fragmentations, Mobilizations, Participations & Repertoires

26 06 2016

9781138918870Mehmet Orhan 

Routledge, 2016

ISBN 9781138918870

The Kurdish conflict is an acknowledged long-standing issue in the Middle East, and the emergence of radical Kurdish nationalist movements in the 20th century played a decisive role in the evolution of political violence.

Political Violence and Kurds in Turkey examines how this political violence impacts Kurds in contemporary Turkey, and explores the circumstances that move human beings to violent acts. It looks at the forms political violence takes and in which times and spaces it occurs, as well as the roles played by micro and macro factors. It takes a theoretical approach to violence, as both producer and product of interrelations between many actors, and contextualises this with studies of violence in Kurdish villages and towns. The book evaluates the three levels at which political violence operates; between the state and Kurdish movements, among Kurdish groups and between Kurdish political organizations and Kurdish society, and divides it into its different aspects and processes; fragmentation-segmentation (signifying intra-ethnic struggles between Kurdish actors), mobilization (the course leading the Kurdish movement to armed conflict), participation (the use of violence by individuals) and repertoires (the forms taken by political violence).

Offering an in-depth analysis of the dynamics behind political violence and its use amongst Kurds in Turkey, this book will be a key resource for students and scholars of Middle Eastern, Kurdish Studies and Conflict Studies, and offers new understanding and approaches to the study of political violence.

For details click here.


New Book: Kurdish Issues – Essays in Honor of Robert W. Olson

25 06 2016

ba6f47f7-6989-427f-a42a-3bd68c3f9708.jpgMichael M. Gunter (ed.)

Mazda Publishers, 2016

ISBN: 978-1568593104

This volume contains 13 essays, written by a group of distinguished scholars, on the most important issues facing the Kurds today. Subjects covered include politics, economics, ISIS, and number of issues that will be of interest to scholars, practitioners, and the intelligent lay public. Moreover, in delving into the nuances of such themes as ethno-nationalist origins, self-determination, US-KRG relations, democratic autonomy, ISIS, Kobane, the Kurdish Diaspora, Ataturk and Bourguiba, among others, these essays will definitely stand the test of time. The volume is dedicated to Robert W. Olson, a distinguished and recognized pioneer in the study of the Kurdish people and their relations with the neighboring countries, especially Turkey.

For details click here.


New Book: Alevis in Europe – Voices of Migration, Culture and Identity

13 06 2016

9781472456441Tözün, Issa

Routledge, 2017

ISBN 9781472456441

The Alevis are a significant minority in Turkey, and now also in the countries of Western Europe. Over the past century, many of them have migrated from rural enclaves on the Anatolian plateau to the great cities of Istanbul and Ankara, and from there to the countries of the European Union. This book asks who are they? How do they construct their identities – now and in the past; in Turkey and in Europe?

A range of scholars, writing from sociological, historical, socio-psychological and political perspectives, present analysis and research that shows the Alevi communities grouping and regrouping, defining and redefining – sometimes as an ethnic minority, sometimes as religious groups, sometimes around a political philosophy – contingently responding to circumstances of the Turkish Republic’s political position and to the immigration policies of Western Europe. Contributors consider Alevi roots and cultural practices in their villages of origin; the changes in identity following the migration to the gecekondu shanty towns surrounding the cities of Turkey; the changes consequent on their second diaspora to Germany, the UK, Sweden and other European countries; and the implications of European citizenship for their identity. This collection offers a new and significant contribution to the study of migration and minorities in the wider European context.

Click here for details.