The Kurdish Women's Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Zoom (Online)


Isabel Käser

Isabel Käser

LSE Middle East Centre


Zeynep Kaya

Zeynep Kaya

LSE Middle East Centre

 Isabel Kaser Book Cover 1200

This event will be the launch of Isabel Käser's latest book 'The Kurdish Women's Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities' published by Cambridge University Press. 

To receive a 20% discount on the book, please click here.

Amidst ongoing wars and insecurities, female fighters, politicians, and activists of the Kurdish Freedom Movement are building a new political system that centres gender equality. Since the Rojava Revolution, the international focus has been especially on female fighters, a gaze that has often been essentialising and objectifying, brushing over a much more complex history of violence and resistance.

Going beyond Orientalist tropes of the female freedom fighter and unpacking the movement's own discourse and practices around the 'free woman', Isabel Käser's new book looks at personal trajectories and everyday processes of becoming a militant in this movement. Based on in-depth ethnographic research in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, with women politicians, martyr mothers and female fighters, she looks at how norms around gender and sexuality have been rewritten and how new meanings and practices have been assigned to women in the quest for Kurdish self-determination. Her book complicates prevailing notions of gender and war and creates a more nuanced understanding of the everyday embodied epistemologies of violence, conflict, and resistance.

'The highly original ethnography and bold ethnography of Isabel Käser sheds new light on the evolution of the Kurdish conflict and allows us to understand the complexity of gender-based emancipatory projects emerging in a Near East under fire.' Hamit Bozarslan - EHESS, Paris 

Isabel Käser is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bern and a Visiting Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre. She is the Principal Investigator of the collaborative project between the LSE, the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr (UKH), and Culture Project entitled ‘The Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-ISIS: Youth, Art and Gender’. Isabel gained her PhD at SOAS University of London and has previously worked in journalism and diplomacy, most recently leading the research project ‘Art in Peace Mediation’ for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Zeynep Kaya is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Sheffield. Her main research areas involve borderlands, territoriality, conflict, peace, political legitimacy and gender in the Middle East. She has recently published a monograph entitled Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism with Cambridge University Press. Zeynep is co-editor of I.B. Tauris-Bloomsbury's Kurdish Studies Series and is also a Visiting Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre and an Academic Associate at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.

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Image: ©Cambridge University Press

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