Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Isabel Käser ─ What Kind of Femininity? The Kurdish Women's Liberation Movement between Revolution, Militarism and Body Politics

Friday, September 20, 2019

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Giddings House, 212

Women have been at the forefront of many of the political and military struggles in the Kurdish Middle East, most visibly so since the start of the ‘Rojava Revolution’ in 2012. But women have in fact since the foundation of the PKK in 1978 played a key role in the ideological and political development of the Liberation Movement as a whole; as guerrillas, activists, politicians, mothers and prisoners. Based on her ethnographic work with the Kurdish Women's Liberation Movement in different parts of Kurdistan, Isabel Käser will discuss how the women's autonomous organizational structures have taken shape and how the process of becoming a freedom fighter unfolds in party education. By asking what kind of femininity has developed over the past 40 years of struggle, Käser's talk analyses the emancipatory power the PKK holds but also zooms into some of the tensions that arise from the interplay between militarism, the party’s body politics and the movement’s revolutionary quest for a more democratic Middle East.

Center for Middle East Studies

Isabel Käser holds a PhD from the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS (UK). She is currently a guest lecturer at the University of Bern (Switzerland), a postdoctoral research associate at SOAS, and leads the project 'art in peace mediation' for the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. Her research is on: Gender and sexuality in the Middle East, Women's and social movements, Gendering of power, resistance, war and peace, Nationalism and nation-building processes in the Middle East