In the ongoing conflict begun in 1984 between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Turkish state,
some 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed. For Kurdish revolutionaries, dying was experienced as the sacrifice (bedel) necessary for a free Kurdistan. With the lifting of state of emergency rule in 2002, there emerged new conceptualizations of loss and suffering other than death, which I call “mundane sacrifice.” Because sacrifice can now be about anything, the possibility of repayment of debt and closing the sacrificial cycle brings the revolution and its sacred order into the everyday. This 11-month ethnography based in Diyarbakir, Turkey considers how communities evaluate the repayment of sacrificial debts and commensurate revolutionary and postemergency politico-moral orders. These commensurations reveal the moral ambiguities in the revolutionary society. As such, they challenge the centrality of sacrificial imagining in radical as well as liberal politics.
Esin Duzel is a socio-cultural anthropologist with a PhD from University of California, San Diego (2016). She also holds MA in Comparative Studies from Ohio State University and BA in Cultural Studies from Sabanci University (Turkey). Among her research and teachings interests are political violence, radical movements and utopia, gender and sexuality, memory and trauma studies, critical multiculturalism, critical race studies and feminist pedagogy. Her work spans Kurdish Studies, Middle East studies and New Europe studies. She taught courses on multiculturalism, racism and transnational feminism in the departments of Anthropology, Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies at University of California, San Diego.
Denisa Kostovicova is Associate Professor in Global Politics at LSE European Institute.