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Stateless citizenship: ‘radical democracy as consciousness-raising’ in the Rojava revolution

Dilar Dirik

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Taylor & Francis Group


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This article discusses radical democratic citizenship in the context of the ‘Rojava Revolution’, an ongoing society-building effort that emerged in majority Kurdish regions in the context of the Syrian war. It describes aspects of the political vision of Abdullah Öcalan, as interpreted and applied by activists involved in the democratic self-governance system in Rojava (northern Syria), since 2012. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the region, the article focuses on the ways in which activists frame their revolution and notions of radical democratic citizenship as consciousness-raising efforts against the state system. Centering the role of educational institutions, it argues that theoretical discussions within the Kurdish freedom movement seek to emancipate political action from state-centric ways of articulating political will, justice demands, and wider geopolitical interests. Lastly, it encourages studying radical democracy efforts by taking seriously the political vocabularies, everyday practices, and long-term perspectives advanced in collective self-organisation from below.

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