Gendering Resistance: Multiple Faces of Kurdish Women’s Resistance

By Nisa Göksel

On March 14-17, thanks to the support of Sociological Review, I had the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the Eastern Sociological Society at the Boston Park Plaza in Boston, U.S. The conference’s main theme was “Facts and Fictions: Narratives of Inequality and Difference.” There were more than 300 panels and a number of mini-conferences with a focus on various sociological topics. 

On the 16th I presented my paper, “Gendering Resistance: Multiple Faces of Kurdish Women’s Resistance,” as part of a mini-conference bringing together scholars who had contributed to the special issue of the journal Sociological Forum on “Resistance in the 21st Century.” The paper examines two modes of resistance among Kurdish women, one guerrilla and one activist. This paper is based on ethnographic and archival research conducted in Turkey, the Kurdish region, and Germany. Relying on extensive analysis of the data, the paper investigates how women engage in various modes of resistance, both violent and nonviolent. In contrast to mainstream scholarship on social movements and contentious/revolutionary politics that juxtaposes the spheres of guerilla movement and nonviolent activism, I discussed how Kurdish women activists struggle to negotiate these allegedly irreconcilable spheres. I concluded that Kurdish women’s activism disrupts our conventional thinking about social movements based on the violent/non-violent binary. 

A very lively and productive discussion followed my talk with other presenters participating extensively.  It was a great opportunity for me to meet the scholars in person who contributed to the special issue and to listen their presentations, which addressed resistance across various contexts of the world, from local solidarities in Tunisia to antiracism in the U.S. 

The comments and questions I received and the panels I attended at the conference will enable me to develop my upcoming research. I am very grateful to the support of the Sociological Review, as the 2019 meeting of Eastern Sociological Society provided me with invaluable opportunities to meet scholars working on similar topics to me; strengthen my existing academic networks; and improve my work through feedback.

Nisa Göksel holds a Ph.D in Sociology from Northwestern University. Her areas of research are gender and sexuality; feminist and women’s movements in the Middle East; and war, violence, and peace-making.

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