[P4772] Emancipatory Transformations in Kurdistan: Autonomy, Radical Democracy, and Gender Liberation

Created by Sardar Saadi
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


This organized panel intends to explore and reflect upon various aspects of social and political transformations that both Kurdish regions of Syria and Turkey have been experiencing in recent years. Since the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East, the majority Kurdish populated areas of northern Syria (i.e. Rojava) have led a revolutionary change in the region that promises an emancipatory politics based on democratic self-government, gender liberation, and communal-based restructuring of society. Struck by a long history of colonization and imperialist interventions as well as authoritarianism of modern states, people in Rojava have been developing an alternative to the oppressive and exclusive modern nation-state system in the Middle East. The idea of 'democratic confederalism', developed by Abdullah Ocalan, has been central to Rojava revolution. It rejects the creation of a new nation-state as a solution to the plights of oppressed and colonized nations, and advocates the formation of confederate structures of democratic self-rule through people's assemblies and communes which challenge the rule of capital and patriarchy, and celebrate the coexistence of ethnicities, religions and languages.
Ocalan's paradigm of 'democratic confederalism' has also been the primary source of inspiration for the Kurdish struggle in Turkey. Since the 1999 municipal elections in Turkey and the major victory of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) in the municipalities of the Kurdish areas, a victory repeated in subsequent elections, the Kurdish freedom movement has been undergoing a strategic shift from rural and armed struggle to civil, participatory, and urban-based strategies of self-determination. In addition to mobilizing municipality spaces, Kurds in Turkey have been organizing around neighborhood assemblies, local cooperatives and associations towards establishing a society based on this new paradigm. A massive wave of repression by the Turkish state in the last two years has severely targeted this experience, although the Kurds in Turkey are continuing their resistance against the Turkish state's attacks. The future of the Kurdish movement in both Syria and Turkey and their efforts to further their emancipatory politics toward a radical democratic future faces many challenges and questions. Presenters on this panel aim to discuss different sides of both the Rojava revolution in Syria and the Kurdish freedom movement in Turkey and unpack some of the challenges and questions these experiences are facing.


Anthro; Pol Science; Socio



Fatma Muge Gocek

(University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Sardar Saadi

(University of Toronto)
Sardar Saadi is a PhD student in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include Kurdish self-determination movement, autonomy and self-government, welfare state, municipal politics, and urban anthropology....
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Behnam Amini

(York University)
Behnam Amini is a graduate student at York University in the program of Social and Political Thought. He has been actively following the political developments regarding Iranian politics and the Kurdish question. As a freelance journalist, Behnam has...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Elif Genc

(New School for Social Research)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Berivan Sarikaya

(University of Toronto)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;