Seminar held on 3 February 2018 from 2-6pm at
DLT Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London WC1H OXG View Map
Organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, The Corner House, People’s Knowledge, Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, Kongra-Star, Kurdistan Students Union and SOAS Kurdish Society
Session 1: Film – “Water’s date of death”
This short film charts the struggle against the Ilisu Dam. Those affected speak about the heritage of the region and what the planned destruction would mean for their culture, their communities and nature. Ecological activists from Iraq, who are concerned about the dam’s downstream impacts on the fragile Iraqi marshlands, also feature.
Session 2: Nature through the lens and practise of Democratic Confederalism
Chair: TOM WAKEFORD
Struggles by the Kurdish freedom movement to overcome the exploitation of nature have taken numerous forms – from the two-decade long campaign to prevent the building of the Ilisu and other large dams as well as other destructive investment projects in SE Turkey, to efforts to prevent deforestation. But the attention given to ecological justice – the third pillar of democratic confederalism – is not as well developed politically as that given to furthering gender liberation and participatory democracy, the two other pillars. However in the last few years important steps have been taken to discuss the framework of an ecological society through the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement in North (Turkish) Kurdistan and the Rojava Revolution.
This session will address such questions as: what does ecological justice and an ecological society means within the context of democratic confederalism? Whose environment is to be protected? And who decides? How are class and gender inequalities and oppressions expressed in environmental degradation? What does environmental justice imply for production, consumption and exchange? Is the transformation of the relationship between human and non-human nature simply a technical issue – better pollution controls for example – or does it demand a root and branch reappraisal of power relations throughout society?
ERCAN AYABOGA: Ecology discussions and practices in the Kurdish Freedom Struggle with a focus on North Kurdistan (Bakur)
ELIF SARICAN: Alevi approaches to nature and democracy
MICHEL PIMBERT: Food Sovereignty and the social production of local ecologies, economies and democracy
NICK HILDYARD: Where’s the revolution in Democratic Confederalism’s “ecology”?
Session Three: Gender through the lens and practice of Democratic Confederalism
Chair: DILAR DIRIK
Gender liberation is a key pillar of Democratic Confederalism. What are the practices on the ground? How does the struggle to emancipate women and dismantle patriarchy intersect with the struggle for ecological justice? How do environmental issues affect men and women differently?
ZEYNEP KURBAN: The global ecological revolution – the perspective of Jineology
MEIKE NACK: Women’s liberation and the ecological struggle: policies and practice
Ercan Ayboga is a founding member of the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Aive as well as the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement and co-author of Revolution in Rojava (Pluto Press).
Dilar Dirik is an activist of the Kurdish women’s movement. She writes for an international audience on the freedom struggles in Kurdistan and is currently finishing her PhD at the Sociology Department at the University of Cambridge.
Nick Hildyard works with The Corner House, a mutual learning and solidarity group. He has been involved for over 15 years in the struggle to save Hasankeyf from the Ilisu Dam and to ensure that water in the region is used to strengthen collaboration rather than cause conflict.
Zeynep Kurban, having gained a degree in Physics and a PhD in Molecular Modelling and Materials Science from UCL, now works on developing clean energy storage technologies at Imperial College London. She is also a co-founder of Re-build, a charity with the mission to help victims of war and natural disasters.
Meike Nack is a women’s rights activist. She worked for the Women‘s Meeting Centre UTAMARA (2007 – 2013), the Women‘s Council in the refugee camp Maxmur in 2014 and she went to Syria in 2015 to work with the Foundation of Free Woman in Rojava (Weqfa Jina Azad a Rojava) and Kongreya Star, for which she is active until today.
Michel Pimbert is Director, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK. He was a member of the United Nations (Committee on World Food Security) Steering Committee of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (2013-2017).
Elif Sarican is a co-founder of the Kurdistan Students Union and an MSc student at LSE
Tom Wakeford is Lead Practitioner at People’s Knowledge, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK and a participatory worker with grassroots-based organisations.
For information Contact: Peace in Kurdistan Campaign