Historically, the Turkish state's relationship to women at the margins of its power has been characterized by violence and dispossession. Even as the Turkish Republic, founded in 1923, brought about progressive reforms in society, such as education and work opportunities for women, permissible femininity required compliance with the nationalist framework of the state. The first female pilot in Turkey, Sabiha Gökçen, adopted daughter of the republic’s
founder, Mustafa Kemal, took part in the devastating bombardment of civilians in the Alevi-Kurdish region of Dêrsim (renamed by the state as ‘Tunceli’) in the late 1930s and continues to be praised as a symbol for the ‘modern’ values of the republic.
In this episode, Dilar Dirik speaks to Ozlem Goner on Kurdish women's experiences with state violence and their resistance against it. Ozlem Goner talks in particular about her research on the massacre in her hometown of Dêrsim.
Ozlem Goner is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the College of Staten Island, and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her book entitled, Turkish National Identity and its Outsiders: Memories of State Violence in Dersim, was published by Routledge in June 2017. She is a steering committee member of the Emergency Committee for Rojava.
This episode was recorded at a time in which the Turkish state under Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened yet another military invasion and occupation of Rojava, while leading military operations in Başûr (Southern Kurdistan) within Iraqi borders and continuing repression against Kurds and oppositions inside Turkish borders. As activists and organizations under the umbrella of the Kurdish women's liberation movement have repeatedly pointed out, these campaigns of state violence have an explicitly feminicidal character. In recent years, politically active Kurdish women have become a strategic target of assassinations, drone strikes, and imprisonment. Thus, Ozlem and Dilar discuss the continuities between episodes of violence and resistance, past and present, as well as opportunities for common struggles beyond borders.
This project is made possible through the University of Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research fund.
Music: Daye Daye - Aynur Dogan