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Kurdish Women's Stories

Kurdish Women's Stories

Edited by Houzan Mahmoud

The stories of women who lived, worked and struggled in Kurdistan

'A fascinating, inspiring journey' - Meredith Tax, author of A Road Unforeseen

Kurdistan has had a tumultuous history, and the women who lived there have experienced a life like no other. From Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror beginning in the 1960s, to the fight against ISIS today, violence, revolution and questions around identity, agency, survival and resistance have been at the forefront of women’s lives for decades.

This book is a collection of these women’s stories written in their own words. Each story reveals a tapestry of experiences, including political activism under Saddam and armed resistance in Rojava’s PKK and YPG and Komala in Rojhalat. This is in addition to experiences of FGM and overcoming victimhood, life under extreme conservatism, as well as a look into the work of artists, poets, novelists and performers whose work represents a complicated relationship with Kurdistan.

These rich and nuanced insights come from a group of women from a nation without a state, who are now scattered across the world. Collectively, they take the reader on a journey that will inspire feminist, anti-fascist and anti-racist people across the world.

Houzan Mahmoud is a Kurdish feminist, writer, public lecturer and anti-war activist. She is the co-founder of Culture Project, an online and print magazine that gives a platform to Kurdish voices. She has written for the GuardianopenDemocracyIndependent and New Statesman.

'For too long, Kurdish women have either been marginalized or portrayed as passive victims. In more recent years, we have also seen media representations exoticizing Kurdish women fighting against ISIS. This book, on the other hand, provides us with intimate accounts of everyday lives and resistances of different Kurdish women, showing us not only their hardships but their courage, resolve and complex humanity'

- Nadje Ali-Ali, Robert Family Professor of International Studies and Professor of Anthropology and Middle East Studies, Brown University

'Captivating ... Stories both intimate and insightful. The narratives are vivid and offer an evocative sense of chaotic politics and longing of Kurdish women for love and freedom'

- Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, Professor of Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, University of Toronto

'A call for hospitality towards what five generations of Kurdish women carry in them - absolute love, momentary death, irredeemable losses, survival, revolts and liberations'

- Fazil Moradi, Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study, University of Johannesburg.

'The test of a great book is that it changes the way we see things. This collection of women’s experiences is profoundly moving and full of insight.'

- David McDowall, author of 'A Modern History of the Kurds'

'A fascinating, inspiring journey ... A real contribution to people's history and women's studies'

- Meredith Tax, author of A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State (Bellevue Literary Press, 2016)

'Kurdish women have historically been subjected to all sorts of violence and erasure. Behind this backdrop, expressing their own truths is a politically radical stance. This book is a valuable contribution to Kurdish women's collective history-writing'

- Dilar Dirik, Kurdish activist and author of The Kurdish Women's Movement (Pluto, 2021)

‘These are stories of defiance and bravery on the part of women who won’t let themselves be threatened or intimidated, even when everything they have is taken away’

- ‘Buzzfeed News’

Introduction - Houzan Mahmoud
1. For the Execution of My Son, I Did Not Cry; There was Smoke Coming from My Soul - Told by Mother Sabria and written by Amira Mohammed
2. The Last Cigarette Butt Before Execution - Told by Nazanin Hasan and written by Amira Mohammed
3. A Stolen Childhood - Bayan Saeed
4. Run Away: A Vision from a Woman's Perspective - Bayan Salman
5. There is a Sorrow in my Heart that I Cannot Console - Susan Shahab
6. The Prison Speakers Played Islamic Verses - Kobra Banehi
7. Breaking the Bars of Home and Becoming a Peshmerga - Farah Shareefi
8. Fighting an Islamic Regime - Nasrin Ramazanali
9. Fuchsia Flower of My Brother (Nasiri Khoshkalam) - Nahiya Khoshkalam
10. The Explorer Who Watched from a School Window - Bayan Nassih
11. The Lost Photos of Engagement - Shahla Yarhussein
12. My Story - Diba Alikhani
13. At the Red Prison, They Want Workers - Rozhgaar Mustafa
14. On Art, Womanhood, Being the 'Other' - Avan Omar
15. In Search of Kurdishness: Our History, My Life - Simal (Anonymous)
16. "To Be Ruken or not to Be Buket?" - Ruken Isik
17. Life is an Ongoing Struggle - Khanda Rashid Murad
18. A Woman of the Homeland of Rojava - Nafia Aysi Hasso
19. A Handful of Blood - Khanda Hameed
20. Except for Poetry, Nothing Else Shields Me - Hero Kurda
21. Once Upon a Time in Rojava - Deejila Haydar
22. A Day at Tel-Rafiat - Seveen Jimo
23. This is the Story of My Life - Lanja Khawe
24. I Struggle for Two Types of Liberation: Gender and Human Liberation - Dashne Nariman
25. What Motivated me to Write? - Zhala Hussein

Published by Pluto Press in Jan 2021
Paperback ISBN: 9780745341149
eBook ISBN: 9781786806482

129mm x 198mm