Partecipazione e Conflitto - PaCo Special Issue proposal by RISC

Editors: Davide Grasso (University of Turin), Andrea Novellis (University of Milan)

Call for Papers:

Exploring the Kurdish Movement: Dynamics, Institution building and theoretical perspectives

In recent years, the political landscape involving Kurdish communities across the Middle East and beyond has grown increasingly significant. The ideas and organized groups within the Kurdish movement have attracted heightened attention due to political developments impacting countries such as Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. For instance, Kurdish left-wing parties, like the HDP in Turkey and the PYD in Syria, have sought to establish political and social relations with non-Kurdish language groups and communities. In Iran, mass protests advocating for women's rights and democratization have adopted the slogan "Woman, Life, Freedom," created by the Kurdish women's movement. In Iraq, the complexities between the three main poles of Kurdish politics (the KDP, the PUK, and the PKK) have been further exacerbated by Turkish attacks and incursions. Meanwhile, in Turkey, the politics and democratization process is inextricably linked to the resolution of the Kurdish issue. This CFP aims to explore the relevance of the Kurdish movement case in the study of social mobilization, contentious politics, political violence, and self-determination movements. As a political movement that has undergone considerable changes in its political, ideological, and organizational structure, the Kurdish movement provides an opportunity to reflect on the theoretical assumptions of various literatures, including social movements, political violence, and more.

1.         Organizational Dynamics of the Kurdish movement

The first angle of this CFP is focused on the organizational dynamics of the Kurdish movement in the regions of Kurdistan and beyond. We welcome contributions that explore the organization of parties and social 'fronts' and their relationships, as well as the relationship between diaspora Kurdish communities and Kurdish left-wing parties (possibly competing or contrasting with other forces). Contributions are invited to explore the structuring of clandestine institutions that are subject to varying levels of state repression and international legal recognition. This could include educational, administrative, and judicial institutions set up by the PKK in Istanbul and Bakur, by the PYD in the North-Eastern Autonomous Administration in Syria with its Executive, Legislative, Judicial, or City Councils, Women's Congress, cooperatives, and Communes, the relationship of the PKK with the mountain communities bordering Iran and Turkey in Iraq, or with the Yazidi communities in the Sinjar area, and the activity promoted by the PJAK in Iran, including social, students', and women's mobilization/activation through assembly institutions such as the Kodar.

2.         Theoretical and Philosophical Perspectives

The second angle of this CFP is theoretical, philosophical, and oriented towards the construction of political thought. The action of the PKK, the PYD, and the other parties and movements connected through the KCK is informed by the 'new paradigm' of the movement, or 'democratic confederalism'. Contributions are invited to explore the concept of democratic confederalism and its philosophical and theoretical influences, along with comparative approaches to other experiences of critique of capitalist society and the construction of new social orders, beyond the nation-state.

3.         Dynamics of Mobilizations in the Kurdish Struggle

The third angle of this CFP is related to social movements and their implications. The PKK, PYD and PJAK’s struggle for self-determination can be analyzed through the lens of social movement theory, which can provide a framework for understanding how collective action emerges and is sustained over time. We welcome contributions that examine the dynamics of mobilization, including the role of emotions, identities, and networks in shaping collective action. Additionally, contributions that focus on the interaction between social movements and the state, as well as the strategies and tactics employed by the PKK in response to state repression, are particularly welcome. Furthermore, the action of parties inspired by democratic confederalism such as the PYD in Syria and the HDP in Turkey also raises questions about the role of identity in political mobilization and how it intersects with nationalism, ethnicity, democratic or authoritarian institutions, and religion. We encourage contributions that address these issues and how they relate to the wider field of social movements and contentious politics.

4.         Contributions to conflict studies

The fourth angle of this CFP is dedicated to exploring the contributions of the case of the parties related to the Kurdish liberation movement to the field of conflict studies. The PKK, as a militant organization that has been involved in armed struggle for several decades, presents a complex and multifaceted case study. It provides a unique opportunity to analyze the causes and dynamics of conflict, as well as the strategies and tactics of insurgency groups. Moreover, the PKK's evolution from a Marxist-Leninist armed group to a political organization that advocates for democratic confederalism offers an opportunity to examine the relationship between ideology, strategy, and tactics in the context of conflict. We invite contributions that analyze the evolution of the PKK and related movements’ ideology and tactics, their relationship with the Kurdish population and other actors involved in the conflict, and the impact of state and international actors’ actions on the conflict. Additionally, we encourage papers that explore the implications of the PKK, the PYD-related YPG and YPJ or the PJAK’s cases for the understanding of violence and its transformation in contemporary conflicts.

The call is open to scholars from various backgrounds, whether related to Kurdish studies, area studies, sociology of conflict, political science, political philosophy, post-colonial studies, gender studies, anthropology, or ethnography. The full articles will be chosen based on scientific and methodological rigor, richness and quality of sources. We discourage the pervasive citation of journalistic sources and highly value contributions resulting from field research.

Submission Guidelines:

To send your paper proposal, please submit a long paper abstract (700-1,000 words) to and by 7 August, 2024. Authors with approved abstracts will be notified by the 31st of August, 2024, and will then be invited to submit their full paper (8,000 – 10,000 words) by January 2024. All papers will be sent to two external referees for final assessment.

The exact length of the article must be printed at the end of the text. The word total includes references, notes, tables, figures, and diagrams. Each printed page of tables, figures, and diagrams in the published version of your article "costs" 475 words from the 10,000-word limit. The issue will be published in English and will only accept papers describing original research and studies not published nor currently under review by other journals. Papers not written in correct English will be returned to their authors.

Deadline for long abstracts (800-1000 words): 7th August 2023
Abstract acceptance notification: 31st August 2023
Deadline for accepted papers (8'000-10'000 words): January 2024

You can send your proposal to Andrea Novellis (University of Milan, and Davide Grasso (University of Turin,





Çağlayan, Handan. Women in the Kurdish Movement: Mothers, Comrades, Goddesses. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

Gunes, Cengiz. "Unpacking the ‘Democratic Confederalism’ and ‘Democratic Autonomy’: Proposals of Turkey’s Kurdish Movement." In Minority Self-Government in Europe and the Middle East, 246-267. Brill Nijhoff, 2019.

Gurbuz, M. "False Hopes? Prospects for Political Inclusion in Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan." Houston, 2018. Available at:

Hassaniyan, Alan and Gareth Stansfield. The Kurdish Protest Movement and the Islamic Republic of Iran: The Securitisation of Kurdish Nationalism. MEC Paper Series (62). LSE Middle East Centre, London, UK, 2022.

Jongerden, Joost. "Governing Kurdistan: Self-Administration in the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria." Ethnopolitics 18, no. 1 (2019): 61–75. doi:10.1080/17449057.2018.1525166.

Jongerden, Joost. "Learning from Defeat: Development and Contestation of the ‘New Paradigm’ Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)." Kurdish Studies 7, no. 1 (2019): 72–92.

Matin, Kamran. "Democratic Confederalism and Societal Multiplicity: A Sympathetic Critique of Abdullah Öcalan’s State Theory." Geopolitics 26, no. 4 (2021): 1075-1094.

O'Connor, Francis. Understanding Insurgency: Popular Support for the PKK in Turkey. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Eskandar. "Iran’s Uprisings for ‘Women, Life, Freedom’: Overdetermination, Crisis, and the Lineages of Revolt." Politics (Forthcoming, 2023).

Schmidinger, Thomas. Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria's Kurds. Vol. 129. London: Pluto Press, 2018.

Tejel, Jordi. "The Kurdish Question in Syria, 1946–2019." In The Cambridge History of the Kurds, edited by Hamit Bozarslan, Cengiz Gunes, and Veli Yadirgi, 436–57. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. doi:10.1017/9781108623711.018.

Watts, Nicole F. Activists in Office: Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey. University of Washington Press, 2010.

Questo sito utilizza un cookie tecnico per consentire la corretta navigazione. Se vuoi saperne di più consulta l'informativa estesa.

e-ISSN: 2035-6609