Call for Papers

Interdisciplinary Conference on Kurdish Politics and Societies

April 6-7, 2018

Jonathan Wyrtzen, Associate Professor, Sociology, Yale University

Huseyin Rasit, PhD Candidate, Sociology, Yale University

Oppressed in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria for the better part of the twentieth century, the Kurds have recently come to the fore with full force. With the rise of ISIS and the fragmentation of Iraq and Syria, the Kurds have begun to occupy an increasingly central position in Middle Eastern politics. In Iraq, after decades of rebellion and genocide at the hands of the Ba’ath Party, the Kurds are enjoying full-blown partnership with the US and on the verge of declaring independence. In Syria, Kurds have seized the opening created during the civil war to establish at autonomous zone based on radical leftist principles and gained attention for their bottom-up democratic experiment, women-only battalions, and fierce fight against ISIS. In Turkey, the Kurdish political movement constitutes a formidable force against Erdogan’s party, and the collapse of peace talks with the PKK has resulted in a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in the southeast. Similarly, Iranian Kurds remain a thorn in the side of the Islamic Republic, ever defiant against repeated attempts to subdue them. 

The geopolitical rise of the Kurds in the early 21st century is also matched with an increase in academic interest in them. Once limited to Kurdish social scientists and a handful of outside experts, Kurdish Studies has become a much more diverse field in the recent years. An expanding body of scholars is now producing quality work on Kurdish societies and politics, with individual papers and entire panels focusing exclusively on the Kurds at annual meetings of professional organizations such as the Middle East Studies Association. But, in contrast to Europe, there have been few workshops or conferences in the United States to draw together this critical mass of scholarship. We wish to contribute to filling this gap by organizing a conference on Kurdish politics and societies.

The conference aims to bring together historians, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists working on a range of themes related to Kurdish politics and society including imperialism and colonialism; nationalism; state formation; revolutionary struggles; social movements; armed resistance; gender issues; migration; transnational flows and the Kurdish diaspora; cross-border interactions; genocide; Iraq-US wars; the Syrian conflict; and the Kurdish Issue in Turkey. We invite papers dealing with any topic related to these themes.

The conference will be held at Yale University between April 6-7, 2018. Thanks to the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund and the MacMillan Center of International and Area Studies, we have generous funds to offer support. Participants will have accommodation (2 nights for domestic and 3 nights for international) and a certain level of travel funds. The details about funding will be communicated after the selection process.

To apply, please send a detailed summary of your proposal (1000 words) and your current CV to Please name your files as NameSurname_Summary and NameSurname_CV to help us in streamlining the selection process. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, October 1, 2017. Participants will be notified by November 15. If you have any questions, please send an email to