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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 440637
Title Confederalism and autonomy in Turkey: The Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Reinvention of Democracy
Author(s) Akkaya, A.H.; Jongerden, J.P.
Source In: The Kurdish Question in Turkey: New Perspectives on Violence, Representation and Reconciliation / Gunes, C., Zeydanlioglu, W., London : Routledge - ISBN 9780415830157 - 304 p.
Department(s) Rural Sociology
Publication type Peer reviewed book chapter
Publication year 2013
Abstract After a long period of ‘national liberation struggle’ aimed at establishing an independent state, the Kurdish movement in Turkey led by the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, Kurdistan Workers’ Party), has changed course and set its aim towards a project of radical democracy. This idea of radical democracy – radical in the sense that it tries to develop the concept of democracy beyond nation and state – is developed in three projects: one for the democratic republic (of Turkey), one for democratic-confederalism and one for democratic-autonomy. In this article we have two objectives. The first is to explore how the PKK makes sense of the projects of democratic-confederalism and democratic-autonomy. This promises to advance our understanding of the PKK in particular and contribute to radical politics in general. Second, a genealogy of democratic-confederalism and democratic-autonomy brings our attention to the work of Murray Bookchin, who influenced Abdullah Öcalan. Our discussion of the democratic-confederalism and democratic-autonomy projects is part of a more general discussion in radical politics and contemporary Marxism. Since the late 1970s, the understanding of radical politics within the framework of Marxism has changed. Focusing on three important pillars of politics – the state, class and party – radical political thought took the form of ‘politics beyond the state, political organisation beyond the party, and political subjectivity beyond class’ (Badiou 2002: 95-7). This, we may say, is the crux of ‘radical democracy’ and an alternative to the neo-liberal surrender of democracy to the market. It is an idea that has given fresh impetus to radical (leftist) social and political movements, from the ‘liberation movements’ of Latin America to the anti-globalism demonstrations of the US and Europe. In the Middle East, which continues to be one of the most important landscapes for ethnic and religious conflicts, the Kurdish movement led by the PKK has put in motion a similar process through the promotion of its project of radical democracy. This chapter is composed of five parts. First, we will trace the evolution of the PKK’s ideological and political approach towards radical democracy in the 2000s. Then, we will discuss the concepts such as confederalism and autonomy developed by Bookchin. The third part looks in detail at the political projects developed within the context of radical democracy (democratic-republic, democratic-confederalism and democratic-autonomy), considering their theoretical implications as well as political dimensions. Next, our observations at the local level conducted in July 2011 will be presented. Finally, the meaning and political implications of this project of radical democracy for the Kurdish movement in Turkey will be discussed.
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