Emrah Karakus

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9822

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Karakus, Emrah (Arizona, U. of) "Kurdish Lubunyas: Securitization of Queer Subjectivities in Kurdish Turkey"

EMRAH KARAKUS, then a graduate student at University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, received funding in April 2019 to aid research on ‘Kurdish Lubunyas: Securitization of Queer Subjectivities in Kurdish Turkey,’ supervised by Dr. Eric Plemons. The conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) that began in 1984 entered a cease-fire in 2010 but returned to re-intensified militarized conflict in 2015. As with many aspects of Kurdish identity politics in Turkey, the ways in which Kurdish queer folks are articulating, debating, and living identities are intimately and increasingly interwoven with institutions, discourses, and practices of securitization. Key to this dynamic is the notion of bedel (debt), the feelings of indebtedness, loss, and obligation among Kurds to struggle for the cause of Kurdish rights. Drawing on 12 months of field research in several key sites and locations, including Kurdish LGBTI organizations and apartments rented by sex workers and ‘partyers’ in Istanbul and Diyarbak’r, the research demonstrates how securitization is affectively experienced through belonging, difference, loyalty, and betrayal. Through bedel, queer and trans Kurds in Kurdish Turkey police boundaries for their security and livelihoods, constitute moral value, respectability, belonging, and honor in the Kurdish society, craft ‘chameleon subjectivities’ for disorienting racial and sexual violence, and collectivize a politics of face to solve disputes within their community, shifting the meanings of bedel in the process.


Karakuş, Emrah. 2022. Chameleons of Kurdish Turkey: Ethnographic reflections on a queer counter/insurgency. Anthropology Today, 38: 13-17. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12696