CfP: Narratives of Struggle: Maintaining and Preserving Kurdish Cultural Heritage

TVP_141120_5154The Kurdish Studies Association (KSA) announces a call for papers for the November 2017 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting to be held in Washington DC, November 18-21, 2017.

Narratives of Struggle: Maintaining and Preserving Kurdish Cultural Heritage

Deadline for submission: February 9, 2017
Organizer and Chair: Christian Sinclair

This organized panel seeks to explore the narratives and politics of cultural maintenance and preservation in the face of repression and conflict. Culture, as defined by UNESCO, is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [a human] as a member of society.” Cultural heritage can be tangible or intangible. According to Bouchenaki (2003), “[c]ultural heritage is a synchronized relationship involving society, norms, and values” and the “intangible heritage should be regarded as the larger framework within which tangible heritage takes on shape and significance.”

The overt struggles faced by the Kurds across the Middle East are well known and have a rich literature. What is less researched, and hence the theme of this panel, are the behind-the-scenes efforts to maintain, preserve, and document Kurdish cultural heritage in the face of these decades-long struggles in the region and beyond. How does culture survive decades of oppression? How is it preserved and documented when challenged by the state or even from within?

There is no singular Kurdish culture, but rather a multitude of sub-cultures that together form Kurdish cultural heritage, writ large. Questions this panel hopes to answer include: Who defines these Kurdish culture(s)? For whom is the culture maintained and/or preserved, and why? Are there competing narratives of a singular cultural element? What risks and challenges are inherent in preserving Kurdish culture in the region? What are the relationships between tangible and intangible Kurdish culture?

Points of consideration may include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of institutions such as libraries, archives and museums
  • Patrimony, ownership and possession
  • Hegemony and representation
  • Gendered perspectives on cultural heritage
  • Language and ethno-linguistics
  • Religion and religious institutions  

DEADLINE: By February 9, 2017, please send abstracts of 300-400 words for the panel. Include a brief 50-75 word bio. Those selected for the panel will be asked to submit their abstracts to MESA via their online submission system by February 15, 2017. Abstracts for this KSA-sponsored panel should be sent to: KSA Executive Secretary, William Kopycki at

NOTE: All selected panelists must be members of MESA at the time of paper submissions to MESA. Student membership to MESA is $65. Professional membership rates vary according to income. Please do not submit an abstract to us if you are not prepared to join MESA once your abstract has been accepted. For more information about the MESA meeting, go to:


CfP: Kurdish Artistic Expression, Resistance, and the State

The Kurdish Studies Association (KSA) announces a call for papers for the November 2016 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting to be held in Boston, November 17-20, 2016.

Kurdish Artistic Expression, Resistance, and the State
Deadline for submission: February 9, 2016
Organizer and Chair: Christian Sinclair


This organized panel seeks to explore the relationships between artistic expression, resistance, and the state. Artistic expression is the manifestation of creative imagination through music, song, literature, film, dance, theatre, and many other venues. While many societies consider artistic expression freedom of speech, this is not the case with Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iran, and to some extent Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdish artistic expression has routinely been suppressed; Kurdish artists have been jailed or forced into exile. Kurdish cultural production is viewed as resistance to state policies and frequently labeled as a terrorist activity, particularly in Turkey.

For this special panel we are seeking papers that explore this volatile relationship between Kurdish artistic expression, resistance, and state politics. Some questions that come to mind are: How does the state view Kurdish artistic expression? How is it received by that state? In light of state censorship, how do Kurds use artistic production to promote Kurdish identity? To what extent do Kurds self-censor when creating their art? How has globalization affected cultural production and expression in these states? What creative spaces have been carved out for production and dissemination of Kurdish artistic expression? Given the nature of the relationship between the state and Kurdish expression of identity, some of those artistic spaces are found in the diaspora. Therefore, another question to consider might be: What is the role of Kurdish artists in the diaspora in expressing resistance to state policies?

This panel should be of particular interest to those involved in resistance studies, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, human rights, and minority rights.


ksa_logo copyDEADLINE: By February 9, 2016, please send abstracts of 300-400 words for the panel. Include a brief 50-75 word bio. Those selected for the panel will be asked to submit their abstracts to MESA via their online submission system by February 16, 2016. Abstracts for this KSA-sponsored panel should be sent to: KSA Secretary, William Kopycki at

NOTE: All selected panelists must be members of MESA at the time of paper submissions to MESA. Student membership to MESA is $65. Professional membership rates vary according to income. Please do not submit an abstract to us if you are not prepared to join MESA once your abstract has been accepted. For more information about the MESA meeting, go to:

In conjunction with the panel, KSA would like to arrange a Kurdish art exhibition or musical performance at MESA. If you have suggestions, please contact William Kopycki at the above email address.

CfP: Mapping Kurdish Media and Cultural Production between the National and the Transnational

28725Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Special issue: “Mapping Kurdish Media and Cultural Production between the National and the Transnational”
Edited by Kevin Smets and Ali Fuat Şengül

Ongoing resistance against, and attacks on, Islamic State militias by Kurdish armed fighters in northern Iraq and Syria have brought international public and media attention to the Kurds’ continuing struggle for statehood. The fighting between the IS and Kurdish militias has brought unprecedented media attention to the Kurds and their struggle for territory, human rights and identity. Although it is too early to predict what direction the geo-political and national struggles will take, it is important to address mediated representations and production by and of Kurds and the role that the media play in new and multiple geographies and experiences of Kurdishness in changing contexts.

The volume and the geographical reach of Kurdish media are expanding exponentially, contributing to a shifting Middle Eastern mediascape. A number of studies already exist on some aspects of Kurdish media production, Kurdish identity and transnational connections and implications. However, these studies have either found home in the field of Kurdish studies or in transnational media studies without contributing, to a certain extent, to dialogues and connections between these fields which would certainly improve understandings of what has come to be known as the Kurdish question.

This special issue seeks to make a contribution to bridging the gap. We therefore invite submissions devoted to empirically grounded, historically-contextualized studies on Kurdish media and cultural productions and their multiple geographies. We welcome papers from a wide range of disciplinary and methodological approaches that focus on media broadly defined and on questions of media and cultural production while relating these issues to relevant socio-political contexts.

Contributions may address, but should not be limited to, the following questions:
– How is the question of Kurdishness articulated, represented and experienced in different geographies?
– How is Kurdish media and cultural production influenced by political economic contexts in different geographies?
– How are questions of gender, class and ethnicity articulated and negotiated?
– What role do Kurdish media and cultural products play in the relation between politics and everyday life?

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 March 2015. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and should provide a clear outline of its proposed theoretical framework and empirical data, as well as its contribution to the themes of the special issue.

Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 20 May 2015.

Deadline for submission of complete manuscripts: 15 October 2015. Contributions should be between 6000 and 7000 words and include an abstract of 150 words, at least 5 keywords and the author’s affiliation and email address.

Please send abstracts by 15 March 2015 to Kevin Smets ( and Ali Fuat Şengül (

Call for committee members: KSA awards

ksa_book_awardThe Kurdish Studies Association is pleased to announce the establishment of two new awards: a Kurdish Studies book award and an award for best graduate paper presented at the Middle East Studies Association meeting. KSA will present these awards during its annual meeting at MESA.

KSA would like to have both selection committees in place in early 2015. If you would like to serve on either committee, please send an email to KSA President, Christian Sinclair, at christian dot sinclair at arizona dot edu by January 1, 2015. The first order of business for both committees will be setting guidelines for each award. After that it will be the function of the committee to select award winners.

KSA news for 2015

Dear KSA colleagues,

Many thanks to all of you who attended the Kurdish Studies Association meeting at MESA this year. We had a record turnout, which reflects the growing importance of Kurdish Studies. I hope too that you all enjoyed the reception afterwards at Levante’s. It was great to see so many new faces in DC – at the meeting, at the reception, and throughout the four days of the MESA conference. We hope to continue to build our presence at MESA.

During MESA 2015 in Denver (November 21-24), KSA will hold its annual meeting and we would like to host another reception for KSA members and guests. KSA is also going to begin a Kurdish Studies book award and an award for best graduate paper presentation at MESA. As the field of Kurdish Studies continues to grow, KSA will grow too, taking on new projects and moving forward to better serve its constituents. In order to do that though, KSA needs to begin collecting dues and formalizing its membership base.

Beginning in January 2015, dues will be collected annually at a rate of $30 ($15 for full-time students) and be valid for the remainder of the calendar year paid. Only current paid members will be allowed to propose panels, submit papers for a sponsored panel, vote on important KSA issues, submit a book or paper for an award, or be eligible to serve on award committees. Funds collected through membership dues will be used primarily for annual KSA membership with MESA, room rental at the annual MESA meeting, sponsorship of MESA-related events (ie films, guest speakers, receptions), and sponsorship of a KSA graduate student panel. The dues portal should be up and running by the end of this month.

Our first order of business for the new year is to set up two committees. One for the book award and one for the graduate paper award. If you are interested in serving on either committee, please send me an email (christian dot sinclair at arizona dot edu) by January 1, 2015. The KSA executive board will review names and select committee members. During this first year of service, committee members will have the task of setting up guidelines for each of the awards in addition to then selecting awardees.

Looking forward to a productive 2015 with all of you!



Christian Sinclair
President, Kurdish Studies Association

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Support for Kadri Yıldırım

kadriyThe following statement (below in Turkish and English) is currently being circulated in support of Professor Kadri Yıldırım, who was taken into custody three days ago in Mardin. If you wish to offer your support, please send your title, name, and affiliation to Professor Mesut Yeğen at İstanbul Şehir Univeristy at the following email: Put “Support for Prof Kadri Yildirim” in the subject line.



Mardin Artuklu Üniversitesi Rektör Yardımcısı Prof. Kadri Yıldırım üniversitede gerçekleştiği iddia edilen bir yolsuzlukla ilgili olarak üç gündür gözaltında tutulmaktadır. Avukatları, gözaltında olduğu bu üç gün boyunca söz konusu yolsuzluk iddiasıyla ilgili olarak Kadri Yıldırım’a herhangi bir ithamda bulunulmadığını belirtmektedir. Bu hal, Kadri Yıldırım’a Kürt meselesinde almış olduğu muhalif tutumun ve Kürdoloji alanına yaptığı eşsiz katkının bedelinin ödetilmek istendiği şeklinde bir izlenimin doğmasına yol açmaktadır.

Biz aşağıda imzası olanlar Prof. Kadri Yıldırım’a dönük bu haksız muameleyi protesto ediyor ve hocanın yanında olduğumuzu duyuruyoruz.


Public Statement

Vice Rector of Mardin Artuklu University, Professor Kadri Yıldırım, has been in custody for 3 days due to alleged corruption charges. In these 3 days in custody his lawyers have stated that Kadri Yıldırım has not been accused of the aforementioned corruption claim. This situation gives the impression that he is paying the price for his unique contributions to field of Kurdology and his opposing viewpoints with regards to the Kurdish issue.

We whose signatures are below protest the unfair treatment of Kadri Yıldırım  and we announce our support for him.



Kurdish Studies Association at MESA

14-DC logo colorThe Middle East Studies Association meeting is around the corner. It will take place in Washington, DC from November 22 to 25. The Kurdish Studies Association will host the following events:

Saturday, November 22
Annual meeting
2-3pm in Coolidge (M) at the conference hotel

Special guest speakers:

>Mehmet Yüksel, US representative from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)
>Mutlu Çiviroğlu, Washington-based journalist will provide update on Kobanê

Kurdish Studies Association reception to follow, 3.30-5pm. Location to be announced at meeting.

Sunday, November 23
11am to 1pm
Conflict, Displacement and the Transformation of Kurdish Identity in Turkey: Negotiating Linguistic and Religious Identity(ies)

Organized by Mehmet Kurt

Sponsored by Kurdish Studies Association (KSA)

Chair: Christian Sinclair, U Arizona


Gulay Turkmen, Yale U–United in Religion, Divided by Ethnicity: The Failure of Islam as a Supranational Identity in the Kurdish-Turkish Conflict in Turkey

Mehmet Kurt, Selcuk U–Between Radical Islam and Kurdishness: An Ethnography of Kurdish Hizbullah in Turkey

Yeşim Mutlu, Middle East Technical U–Negotiating Kurdishness Through Language: The Case of Internally Displaced Kurdish Youngsters within the Education System in Turkey

Birgul Yilmaz, SOAS, U London– Language, Identity and Conflict in Turkey: Language Rights and Activism as a Catalyst of Democratization, Political Negotiation and Resistance

Sunday, November 23
Identity, Language, Media, and Memory: Kurds in the US Diaspora

Organized by Christian Sinclair

Sponsored by Kurdish Studies Association (KSA)


Aynur de Rouen, Binghamton U SUNY– Coming to America: Kurdish Diaspora in the United States

Stan Thangaraj, City Col of New York– Navigating Empire(s) Through Religion and Culture: Muslim Kurdish American Women and Challenging Power(s)

Christian Sinclair, U Arizona–Infusing Media Rhythms into the Diasporic Space: Kurds and Media Production in the US

Amir Sharifi, CSU Long Beach– The Role of Heritage Language in Identity Construction Among Diasporic Kurds in the United States

For more information about the MESA meeting in DC, go to:

New KSA Logo


The Kurdish Studies Association has a new logo! The KSA’s new logo was designed by Iraj Esmailpour Ghouchani. More about the designer can be found at his website here: Many thanks Iraj for the inspired design!

Kurdish Studies Association events at MESA/New Orleans

2013-Logo-w-datesKurdish Studies Association events for MESA
If you are attending this year’s MESA conference in New Orleans, please join us at the following KSA events:

Thursday, October 10
Kurdish Studies Association General Meeting
Napoleon DC (3rd floor)

Friday, October 11
KSA sponsored film screening: About 111 Girls
MESA FilmFest venue

Saturday, October 12
KSA lunch gathering
Location: TBA

Saturday, October 12
Location: check MESA program
KSA sponsored panel

‘Othering’ and Kurds: Exploring Displacement, Belonging, and Resistance

Chair: Christian Sinclair, U Arizona
Discussant: Diane E. King, Ohio State U/U Kentucky

–Ozge Sensoy Bahar, UIUC–“Back Then and Now”: Experiences of Armed Conflict, Migration, and Its Aftermath through the Eyes of Kurdish Migrant Women

–Mehmet Kurt (panel organizer), Bingöl U–Changing Social Structure in Kurdish Border Towns: The Reflections of State-Society Relations on Identity Formation

–Ipek Demir, U Leicester, UK–Translating and Transforming Kurdishness in Diaspora

–Mija Sanders, U Arizona/ Mercy Corps–Being a Kurdish Transgender Woman Sex-Worker in Diyarbakir: Narratives of Displacement, Belonging, and Resistance


Kurdish Studies Association: Call for Logo Design


The Kurdish Studies Association (KSA) announces an open call to artistically-inclined individuals who are willing to design a logo for the association. This will be the logo used for KSA’s letterhead in official correspondence, website, and used for any other promotional materials as deemed suitable by the executive committee. Logo submissions do not have to be from KSA members.

The logo design must fulfill the following criteria:

1)    The design should be original

2)    The name “Kurdish Studies Association” should incorporated into the design

3)    It should accommodate the technical specifications:

a)     The design will possibly be used on various backgrounds (white, black, and even other colors), and will be used in different sizes (a relatively small one on the website and correspondence, but bigger in the case of posters/signage).

b)    Submissions may be in multiple colors, but should work equally well in the case of black and white printed materials.

c)     Designs should initially be submitted as low resolution JPG or PNG files (height and width 400px maximum).

d)    Designs should be sent as high-resolution vector file if chosen as a finalist.

Submissions should be received by October 9th with a review and selection during the KSA meeting to be held on October 10th at the Middle East Studies Association Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Three logos will be chosen and posted on the KSA website for a final vote.

Legal information:

The creator of the willing design will be asked to transfer copyright of the design to the association so it can be properly protected for the benefit of the association. The design also must not include any other copyrighted materials for which any license is required.

Submission information:

Please submit your design to with the subject line: KSA Logo Competition. Submit all entries via email by October 9th.