Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Warzones as Displacement in the Middle East: The Kurdish Case

Friday, November 9, 2018

9:15 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

Registration is required. Please register here.

Organized by Meltem Toksoz, visiting associate professor in Middle East studies and history, and Nazan Bedirhanoglu, visiting scholar in Middle East Studies.

The ‘displaced’ marks our times both in origins and destinations. Forced movements across borders awash by conflict compel us to re-think displacement and re-settlement. This is particularly imminent in the case of the Middle East. This workshop aims at tackling only the particularity of the Kurdish warzones and its ripples in the Middle East and beyond. Kurds have been living in a perpetual warzone since the last decades of the nineteenth century. Ever since the 1980s, however, displacement of Kurds has been a major strategy for the states that divided the Kurdish lands among themselves as the Kurdish uprising turned into armed conflict. Therefore, Kurdish displacement precedes the global refugee crisis of the 2010s. Kurds, as the ephemeral displaced, have been and are subjects of ecological destruction, institutional (non-)operations, trafficking and evacuation, as well as making diaspora lives predominantly in Europe but also more recently in the US. Displacement is not simply coerced movement, yet we still lack the conceptual toolbox as well as grounded research to extend our perspectives beyond the physical conditions of these mass movements in search of new lives. The landscape of displacement and the involvement of various institutions varying from local to global along the course of displacement is thus not adequately analyzed in the case of Kurdish displacement, in which every step is also compounded by the fact that a stateless people is on a coerced move.

Middle East Studies

This workshop treats this warzone along Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran - ‘borders’ and zones of Kurdistan through the following questions and issues placed in 3 panels:

Panel 1: 9.30 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
Displacement in the Middle East
We want to tackle the question of what happens before displacement and how forced migration appears as an option in the first place. What and who is left behind is the next related issue through the following questions: How do tangible and intangible borders operate? How does discrimination create the conditions of displacement? How are lives sustained under continuous conflict?

Speakers:
Onur Gunay (Harvard University)
Wendy Hamelink (Oslo University, Norway)
Thomas Schimidinger (University of Vienna, Austria)
Discussant: Lisa di Carlo (Brown University)

Panel 2: 1:00 p.m.-3.30 p.m.
People in the Warzones
When is displacement over? How do various steps of relocation occur? How are transit paths crossed? How do conditions of warzone travel with the displaced? Last but not least, how does displacement transform the socioeconomic and political landscapes of the migration destinations? How do we rethink displacement in a way not confined to physical conditions? What happens to displaced emotions?

Speakers:
Nazan Bedirhanoglu (Wellesley)
Nisa Goksel (Lund University, Sweden)
Zeynep Gonen (Framingham University)
Discussant: Meltem Toksoz (Brown University)

Panel 3: 4:00 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.
Roundtable: Warzone Scholarship and the Global Public

What does scholarly engagement with such warzones really entail? How do we articulate the ways in which scholarship engages with the issue of displacement? How does engagement create ‘risks’ for scholars?

Chair: Beshara Doumani (Brown University)

Hamit Bozarslan (ENS, France)
Delal Aydin (Binghamton University)