Edited Collection on Kurdish Ecology

Deadline: June 12, 2020
Contact: Stephen Hunt
Email: [email protected]

Call for Papers 2020: Contributions sought for an edited collection on Kurdish Ecology

Lexington Books (humanities and social sciences imprint of independent publishing house Rowman & Littlefield), have invited me to produce a book on environmental issues relating to the Kurdish region. This will be an addition to their current series on “Environment and Society.” Abstracts are invited for contributions to an edited collection of essays relevant to the ecological initiatives of the Kurdish freedom movement post-2000.

Proposed title: Kurdish Ecology: Environmental Thought, Challenges and Activism. Collection of essays (edited by Stephen E. Hunt)
Full name / name of organization:
Dr Stephen Hunt (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Contact e-mail: [email protected]

To document, understand, and critically evaluate the Kurdish ecological initiatives within the disciplines of the environmental humanities.
To consider the achievements of, and prospects for, such initiatives within a broad context and from multiple perspectives.
To inform ongoing conversations about the wider implications for ecological justice and sustainability within planetary boundaries. As a project for intellectual mutual aid, the collection will also seek to address two related questions:
• What can be learned from the inclusion of ecology in the Kurdish revolutionaries’ program of transformation?
• What practical forms of solidarity are appropriate and effective?

Ecology is key to the Kurdish project to implement democratic autonomy, one of three pillars alongside participatory democracy and gender equality. To date, however, there is no book-length publication focusing upon this equally fascinating, inspiring, and urgent aspect of the Kurdish freedom movement. Now is a critical moment to produce such a work as the failings of capitalist modernity become all too apparent, and a resurgent environmental movement is seeking workable alternatives. There is, therefore, a need for a synthesis of perspectives that contextualize and critically evaluate the Kurdish ecology initiatives. It is hoped that the collection will combine a realistic assessment of the formidable challenges that confront them with a positive, solutions-focused approach. In this way it will be a valuable contribution to raising awareness of often unknown aspirations to create an ecologically sustainable society and towards developing the relationship between the international solidarity and environmental movements. This is an exciting opportunity!

You! Activist-researchers and scholars of all disciplines are encouraged to submit.

Please provide an abstract of your proposed contribution, with a brief biography, by 12th June 2020. Papers of around 5000 words are requested by 30th November 2020. This will enable a timely peer-review process to ensure readiness for publication by the end of 2021.

Rowman & Littlefield’s Manuscript preparation – guidelines for authors document indicates that papers should be submitted in 12-point Times Roman font and stipulates other formatting details. Please adhere closely to these; I shall work closely with you to ensure that documents meet the requirements before submission.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., are used as style and spelling guides for Rowman & Littlefield publications. If you are intending to include quotations from creative works, illustrations or any other sources that require authorization to reproduce, see the Rowman and Lexington Permissions Guide

The following is the provisional description that I provided for the book proposal as approved by Lexington Books.

Kurdish Ecology will argue that the integration of social-ecologist theory within democratic confederalism, the model that the Kurdish freedom movement is endeavoring to put into practice, has international significance. Ecological sustainability is a core element of this unique political experiment, inspired by Murray Bookchin and Abdullah Öcalan’s revitalization of libertarian socialist ideas and which is antithetical to capitalist modernity, patriarchy and the unitary state. It will consider the relationship of environmental concerns to the aspirations for direct democracy and gender equality that also underpin the Kurdish revolutionary project.

This edited collection will examine and seek to explain the multifaceted nature of the ecological approach, which has consequences for all areas of society. It will consider attempts to include concern for the natural and built environment in contexts such as decision-making assemblies, education and the solidarity economy. It will evaluate prospects for such initiatives, as well as the multiple challenges that confront them, and assess the potential for extending the ecological aspects of democratic autonomy within Kurdistan and beyond. The book will take a multidimensional approach to Kurdish ecology, seeking to avoid an overly Eurocentric framing of the movement. It is important, for example, to acknowledge the influence of the overlooked, yet significant, indigenous roots of nature sympathy in Alevism.

While awareness of Kurdish ecology remains limited outside of the region, there has been longstanding cooperation between Kurdish activists and environmental campaigners from elsewhere. The case will be made that extending solidarity between Kurdish and other international social justice groups and the environmental movement should be a strategic priority for activists. Such networking across social movements enables them to develop alliances of counterpower and ultimately, it is hoped, for constructive transformation (Castells, 2012). In the West, the environmental movement has been fragmented and frequently engaged in defensive lobbying to contest single issues in a disconnected way, lacking the systemic critique that is the basis of social ecology. Mainstream environmental groups, therefore, lack the aspirations for profound change that are at the heart of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM). Over the past year, however, there has been an upturn in activism across the world, as the urgent nature of the ecological crisis, and the immense threats it presents, becomes more evident. Reciprocal awareness of diverse approaches to this emergency enhances co-learning, enriches insights and builds affinities that can fortify mutual struggles.

I was approached by Lexington Books due to my initial research in this area, published as the following paper:
Hunt, S. E. (2019). Prospects for Kurdish ecology initiatives in Syria and Turkey: Democratic confederalism and social ecology. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 30(3), 7-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10455752.2017.1413120
Suggested topics for abstract proposals

• The influence of Murray Bookchin’s social ecology; critique, adaptation and evolution of such ideas.
• The relationship between ecology and the other two pillars of democratic confederalism – gender equality/jineology and direct democracy.
• Environmental thought and consideration for the ‘natural’ world in Abdullah Öcalan’s writings.
• Integration of ecological awareness in the paradigm shift within the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) to democratic confederalism, with allusions to eco-industry and eco-communities.
• Influence of Sakine Cansiz and other PKK guerrillas who spent years living in mountainous regions, upon ecological ideas and practices. Significance of Alevi heritage.
• Experiences of participation within the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, the ecological assemblies of the Kurdish freedom movement or bodies with responsibility for conservation governance.
• Discussion of environmental policies within areas of governance in municipalities and assemblies: challenges, successes and shortcomings.
• Cultural representation: To what extent and how have ecological ideas been interpreted and represented within the media, art, and other cultural manifestations of predominantly Kurdish communities?
• The theory and practice of ecological pedagogy within the Kurdish freedom movement. To what extent and how are ecological ideas integrated and understood within schools and academies, esp. within the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava)?
• The objectives and activities of the Green Party of Kurdistan.
• Challenges in creating a post-capitalist solidarity economy that rejects extractivism and seeks to meet human needs within environmental constraints.
• Assessment of challenges across four quarters of region with substantial Kurdish populations: border embargoes, political repression, lack of relevant infrastructure such as public transport and renewable energy, dependence on (unrefined) oil, significant levels of pollution, climate change, industrial agriculture and monoculture, soil erosion and deforestation. How might some of these be addressed?
• Efforts to boost agricultural productivity and attain food sovereignty. Development of agricultural cooperatives.
• Environmental degradation as a cause of conflict. Environmental destruction as a military strategy.
• The arms industry – state and corporate complicity and international resistance.
• Ecological impacts of conflict and consequences of conflict and environmental degradation for displaced persons and refugees.
• Specific initiatives such as efforts to construct eco-schools, renewable technology projects, Make Rojava Green Again, Jinwar, projects undertaken by Re-Build.
• Anti-dam campaigns, including those to protect the ancient settlement at Hasankeyf. Sustainable alternatives to such mega-projects.
• The Gezi Park protests and Kurdish activism
• Support for Kurdish ecology within international environmental networks, such as Extinction Rebellion, Earth First! and the Sunrise Movement (e.g. London Kurdistan Solidarity ran the concluding session at the 2019 Spring Rebellion) / support for such mobilisations within Kurdistan (e.g. Fridays for a Future Rojava).
• An evaluative survey of citizens’ environmental groups in Turkey, Iran, and the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq (e.g. Doĝa Derneĝi, Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes, Kurdish Chya Green Association, Heeloo). What are their main priorities and challenges and their strategic approaches? To what extent do they collaborate with international organizations such as Greenpeace?
• Contextual account of natural history and biodiversity of Kurdish region.
• Inclusion of ecological dimension on the part of international Kurdish solidarity campaigns.
• Kurdish freedom movement links beyond Kurdish populations (e.g. other ethnic groups within Rojava, influence of Zapatistas). Ecological concerns as part of adoption of experiments compatible with democratic autonomy elsewhere (e.g. Cherán, La Via Campesina, Cooperation Jackson, Mapuche, Palestine?).

Posted on May 12, 2020