This talk aims to move beyond simplistic and often celebratory accounts of Kurdish women fighters resisting ISIS in Syria and Iraq by exploring underlying ideological and political underpinnings. We illustrate the dialectical relationship between the writings of the political leader (öcalan), and the resistance to male hegemony within the movement on behalf of Kurdish women activists. We interrogate the long-term prospect of radical gender equality and justice in a context of escalating conflict, militarization and the prevalence of conservative gender norms and relations, particularly pertaining to sexuality.
Nadje Al-Ali is Professor of Gender Studies and Chair of the Centre for Gender Studies, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Her main research interests revolve around gender theory; feminist activism; women and gender in the Middle East; transnational migration and diaspora mobilization; war, conflict, and reconstruction. Her publications include “What kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq” (2009, University of California Press, co-authored with Nicola Pratt); “Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present” (2007, Zed Books); “New Approaches to Migration” (ed., Routledge, 2002, with Khalid Koser); “Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East” (Cambridge University Press 2000) and “Gender Writing – Writing Gender” (The American University in Cairo Press, 1994) as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. Her most recent book (co-edited with Nicola Pratt) is entitled “Women and War in the Middle East: Transnational Perspectives” (Zed Books, 2009).
Dr. Latif Tas is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS, University of London. For the period of 2017-2019, he will also be Assistant Professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University (New York). His work is interdisciplinary and focuses on the politics of justice, legal and political anthropology, diaspora mobilization, transnationalism, gender, citizenship, social movements, conflict and peace in Europe and Middle East, especially with reference to Turkey, Kurds, the Ottoman Empire, the UK and Germany. His most recent research project on the politics of justice, gender and transnationalism has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 703201. SOAS, University of London (London); Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University (New York) and Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Social Anthropology (Halle) are hosts of this ongoing project