This paper analyses how the ‘Peace Mothers’ in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan are structurally located in the middle-ground between familial relations and the state, as they strive to come to terms with their children’s interpretation of the politics of decolonisation through the project of Kurdish democratisation and ‘revolution’. Such a politics takes its dominant form in the vehicle of The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a movement who see themselves as a decolonial and left-wing militant group, and whose membership is both young and committed to radical political transformation. At stake for the mothers of these members who have become an increasingly visible political actor in the Turkish public sphere, is a struggle with their children’s interpretation of possible futures, as well as being the middle-ground and the direct site of confrontation against the state. In contemporary Turkey, the ‘Peace Mothers’ are taking to the street, as their children are either in prison, guerrilla fighters, or as seen in 2019, on hunger strike. The children’s engagement with the state is hidden, compared to the struggle of the ‘Peace Mothers’. The ‘Mothers’ as such, are seen as confrontational, violent (symbolically), and as the so-called “producers of terrorists”.

The ‘Mothers’, as (de)sexed identities, are transgressing norms of propriety, something welcomed within the revolutionary spirit of the Kurdish movement, which places women in the forefront of their decolonial struggle against the state, capitalism and slavery. The ‘Peace Mothers’ are a powerful antidote to the state, as voices of the demand for equal rights, as well as resisting the precarity of their existence as Kurds. The ‘Peace Mothers’ are constantly reminded of being ‘women’ through the sexual harassment and violence they are met with. Their bodies, therefore, become a site of resistance and domination. Drawing upon recent events with the so-called ‘Peace Mothers’ of Turkey, the hunger strikes and the centering of the embodied figures of the ‘Mother-goddess’ at the front of Kurdish decolonial struggle, this paper draws upon new data gathered through ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey and interviews with the ‘Peace Mothers’.

Author Biography

Hasret Cetinkaya is a doctoral candidate at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland – Galway, where she works on issues in critical social and legal theory and human rights. Her research more specifically is on the Self, ethics and power within the culture of human rights and the law. (h.cetinkaya1@nuigalway.ie)