Overcoming the Nation-State: Women’s Autonomy and Radical Democracy in Kurdistan

  • Dilar Dirik


Existing work often monolithically classifies all Kurdish politics as “nationalist” and thus fails to distinguish between traditional, often conservative concepts of politics, identity, and action and other, which, while being national liberationist, contribute to women’s liberationist movements and their autonomous framings of freedom and justice. The following chapter outlines the ideological underpinnings of the Kurdish freedom movement concerning women’s liberation, by focusing on its shift from Marxist-Leninist national liberation to articulating novel concepts of identity and experimenting with grassroots politics that function in opposition to the nation-state ideal: the political system of Democratic Confederalism. I introduce the democratic nation concept as proposed by Öcalan as an attempt to redefine notions of identity and belonging in favor of democratic and liberatory rather than ethnic ideals. While the Kurdish freedom movement is explicitly committed to women’s liberation, further, an autonomous women’s movement defines itself as the guarantor for social change and revolution, positions itself as the pioneering force of democratization, and actively creates own organizational mechanisms and practices. A radical democratic polity beyond kinship associations, which makes women’s liberation conditional to its principles and identity, has a liberating effect on people’s everyday lives.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dilar Dirik
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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