Rusen Bingul

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Emory U.

Grant number

Gr. 10590

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Bingul, Rusen (Emory U.) "Negotiating Kurdishness: Gender, Justice, and Dispute Resolution in Southeastern Turkey"

Law is frequently a tool of oppression, especially for minority communities who have little say in the rules that regulate their lives and police their bodies. In Turkey’s southeast—a region long neglected and marginalized by the state even as its peoples, particularly Kurds, have served as a nationalist bugaboo—residents therefore look not to the official courts but to renowned local figures, religious leaders, and civil organizations to resolve disputes. This puts them at odds with the authoritarian Turkish state that views alternative channels for justice as a threat to be either co-opted or eliminated. I examine three types of alternative judicial bodies (AJBs): (1) traditional Heqî AJBs, which privilege religion and patriarchy in their decision-making; (2) new progressive AJBs run by local civil-society organizations (CSOs); (3) and even newer state-aligned AJBs. Through participant observations and interviews with AJB members, plaintiffs, women, and others in Diyarbakir and Mardin, I seek to understand why people turn to alternative judicial bodies, how these bodies and the state interact, and how Kurds, women, and other marginalized groups use these alternative channels to navigate the dynamics of gender, justice, and the state in southeastern Turkey.