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The Kurdish Women's Movement

The Kurdish Women's Movement

History, Theory, Practice

by Dilar Dirik

A non-Eurocentric feminist perspective on the revolutionary Kurdish women's movement

'One the foremost writers and participants in the Kurdish women's movement' - Harsha Walia

The Kurdish women's movement is at the heart of one of the most exciting revolutionary experiments in the world today: Rojava. Forged over decades of struggle, most recently in the fight against ISIS, Rojava embodies a radical commitment to ecology, democracy and women's liberation. But while striking images of Kurdish women in military fatigues proliferate, a true understanding of the women's movement remains elusive.

Taking apart the superficial and Orientalist frameworks that dominate, Dilar Dirik offers instead an empirically rich account of the women's movement in Kurdistan. Drawing on original research and ethnographic fieldwork, she surveys the movement's historical origins, ideological evolution, and political practice over the past forty years. Going beyond abstract ideas, Dirik locates the movement's culture and ideology in its concrete work for women's revolution in the here and now.

Taking the reader from the guerrilla camps in the mountains to radical women's academies and self-organized refugee camps, readers around the world can engage with the revolution in Kurdistan, both theoretically and practically, as a vital touchstone in the wider struggle for a militant anti-fascist, anti-capitalist feminist internationalism.

Dilar Dirik was born in Antakya and grew up in Offenbach am Main. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford and holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. She has written on the Kurdish struggle for a range of publications including openDemocracy and ROAR Magazine. She tweets @Dlrdrk1.

'Dilar Dirik is one the foremost writers, scholars and participants in the Kurdish women's movement. Her revolutionary work against all forms of state and social oppression and exploitation is unsparing in its truth-telling and expansive in its political orientation - a true people's historian from below'

- Harsha Walia, author of 'Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism' (Haymarket, 2021)

'Compelling [...] As a social history from below, it goes beyond the hype and reveals the radical roots of this movement'

- Dr Yara Hawari, writer, academic and political analyst

'Read to 'feelthink' and to embrace the memories of the historical struggle of the Kurdish sisters against the fascist and capitalist patriarchy. From the mountains, academia and daily life in resistance, their legacy walks towards liberation, healing and dignity'

- Lorena Kab'nal, Mayan Ancestral Healer, Territorial Community Feminist and Community Social Psychologist

'What should a women's revolution look like? With clarity, Dilar Dirik lays bare the thoughts and experiments of the inspiring Kurdish women who for decades having been setting example to anyone fighting for a more equal world. This is an important book for everyone interested in revolution, gender equality, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist struggle'

- Alpa Shah, Professor of Anthropology at London School of Economics and award-winning author

Figures
Abbreviations and acronyms
Locations in Kurdish
Map
Acknowledgements
Preface
Introduction: The Kurdistan women’s revolution – A social history from below
PART I: HISTORY
1. Mapping the Kurdistan of women
2. The Kurdistan Revolutionaries
3. Berxwedan jiyan e! – The Diyarbakır prison resistance
4. Vejîn! – The first bullet
5. Edî bes e! – The dirty war
6. Towards women’s autonomy
7. International conspiracy and internal crisis
8. The battle for the PKK’s soul
9. Enter Democratic Confederalism
PART II: THEORY
10. ‘Struggling woman’: Ideology and identity
11. Building ‘democratic modernity’
12. Jineolojî: ‘A science of woman and life’
PART III: PRACTICE
13. Stateless society
14. Öcalan: Leader, prisoner, comrade
15. Revolutionizing love
16. Mothers
17. Self-defence
18. Martyrs
19. Prisoners
20. Education
21. Media
22. Ecology
23. Mexmûr: From displacement to self-determination
24. Bakur: Women against politicide
25. Başûr: ‘Freedom is more than the absence of dictatorship’
26. Rojava: A women’s revolution
27. Resistance or feminicide: Women against Daesh
28. Şengal: From feminicide to women’s autonomy
29. Kobanê did not fall
30. Life after Daesh: Women’s solidarity in Manbij
31. War and peace
PART IV: EMPOWERMENT OR REVOLUTION?
32. Two rivers, two freedom agendas?
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Published by Pluto Press in Jul 2022
Paperback ISBN: 9780745341941
eBook ISBN: 9781786807397

384 pages

156mm x 234mm