Feminist Duration Reading Group: Kurdish Feminisms

2 & 6 March 2019

Sat 2 March, 2–6pm
Forest Hill, London SE23
Free & open to all
This meeting will take place in the home of a member of the FDRG Working Group, where we will cook and eat as well as read and talk. Please email to RSVP and for the address and suggestions of what to contribute towards a vegan meal: feministduration@gmail.com

Weds 6 March, 7–10pm
The Swiss Church, Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DY 
Free & open to all

This March the Feminist Duration Reading Group is organising two sessions exploring aspects of contemporary Kurdish feminism.

The session on Saturday 2 March explores the insightful analyses of Nadje Al-Ali & Latif Taş in their 2018 article ‘Reconsidering nationalism and feminism: the Kurdish political movement in Turkey.’ Al-Ali and Taş examine Kurdish feminism in its double and complicated relationship with Turkish nationalism and the Kurdish movement, showing the different political stages of Kurdish women’s struggle in the past decades against the backdrop of rising ethnic-national and patriarchal tendencies in both Turkey and the Kurdish feminist movements. While investigating the possibility of women’s liberation within the course of Kurdish liberation, the authors also question the gender ideologies that have been promoted amongst the wider Kurdish population. In line with these questions, this session considers the relevance of transnational feminism and the possibilities of developing feminist strategies within the limitations of the national imagination. This meeting is led by FDRG Working Group member Ceren Özpinar.

The meeting on Wednesday 6 March also considers women’s roles in the Kurdish political movement and in broader Kurdish society. It centres on texts by two founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and advocates for women’s liberation globally, Abdullah Öcalan and Sakine Cansiz.  These texts focus on women’s liberation in the context of the PKK and the struggle for Kurdish nationalism in Turkey. Öcalan’s Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution, compiled of extracts from books written throughout his life, gives an overview of women’s rights. Cansiz’s Sara: My Whole Life Was a Struggle is an autobiographical account of her life in parallel with the ongoing Kurdish movement up until her arrest in 1979. Cansiz was assassinated in 2013. Her demands  that female revolutionaries be recruited and educated, and for total gender equality within the PKK, are now central tenets of the movement.

Led by Kezia Davies and Mariana Lemos, the session features guest speaker anthropologist and activist Elif Sarican, who will speak about the Kurdish Women’s Movement and introduce the texts.

Please bring copies with you. No advance reading is required as we will read together, out loud, on the night.

Sat 2 March meeting texts
Nadje Al-Ali and Latif Tas, ‘Reconsidering nationalism and feminism: the Kurdish political movement in Turkey,’ 2018

Weds 6 March meeting texts
Abdullah Öcalan, extracts from Liberating Life: Woman’s Revolution, 2013, pp40 – 43 and pp54 – 60.
Sakine Cansiz, extracts from Sara: My Whole Life Was a Strugglepp55 – 71 and pp273 – 287.

The 6 March meeting is part of The Table, a week-long exhibition and events series developed by Mariana Lemos as part of the cultural programme of The Swiss Church. Considering the active position of feminist practices within the space of an exhibition, the programme evokes images of domestic intimacy, and ideas of horizontality and democracy, while also drawing attention to who routinely gets included, and excluded, from the table?  

The Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on under-known and under-appreciated feminist texts, movements, and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist tradition. Started at Goldsmiths, University of London, in March 2015, since July 2015 it has been generously hosted by SPACE in Hackney.  The group also regularly meets in non-institutional spaces, including in community centres and in the homes of friends of the group where cooking and eating combine with reading and talking.

The Feminist Duration Reading Group welcomes feminists of all genders and generations to explore the legacy and resonance of art, thinking and collective practice from earlier periods of feminism, in dialogue with contemporary practices and movements. It is led by the Feminist Duration Working Group whose current members are Giulia Antonioli, Angelica Bollettinari, Lina Džuverović, Sabrina Fuller, Haley Ha, Lily Evans-Hill, Félicie Kertudo, Mariana Lemos, Roisin O’Sullivan, Ceren Özpinar, Sara Paiola, Helena Reckitt, Justin Seng, and Fiona Townend.  

If you would like to join the reading group mailing list, propose a focus for a subsequent session, or invite us to lead a meeting, please write to feministduration@gmail.com.