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Jan 26th, 2023

A Refusal to Be Silenced

In The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics: Women Politicians Write from Prison, twenty-two women committed to Kurdish liberation recount their struggle to open Kurdish politics to women, starting in the 1990s, then their experiences serving in municipal government and in Turkey's parliament in the 2010s. For this panel, translation coordinators will discuss the book as part of the larger Kurdish women’s movement.

Edited by Kurdish politician Gültan Kışanak from within prison in Turkey, the book uniquely brings together a diverse range of political reflections by a group of women politicians on their struggles against male domination and anti-Kurdish repression in Turkey as well as their radically creative political pursuit of equality and justice. In addition to their experiences in official party politics, the contributors also tell their personal stories. In doing so, the book becomes a remarkable fusion of the personal with the political.

The English translation of The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics was collectively undertaken by a group of 26 volunteer translators and Janet Biehl, who did the editing of the book and contributed her artwork. So very much like the original text, the translation itself has been a product of feminist solidarity.

Kurdish scholar Ruken Isik earned her PhD from the Interdisciplinary Program of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies. She has taught classes on transnational feminisms at American University in Washington, DC.

Janet Biehl translated (from German to English) Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan by Knapp et al.; and Sara (2 vols.), by Sakine Cansiz, both for Pluto Press. In 2022 she authored and illustrated the graphic memoir Their Blood Got Mixed (PM Press). 

Emek Ergun is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Global Studies at UNC Charlotte. She is also a feminist translator and recently translated into Turkish Octavia Butler’s speculative novel Kindred. Ergun’s first single-authored book, Virgin Crossing Borders: Feminist Resistance and Solidarity in Translation will be published by the University of Illinois Press in April 2023.