Exchange with Rojava — Online to a War Zone

Bild mit Studenten

International exchange that broadens horizons: In June Kurdish students from northeastern Syria and students in Bremen discussed issues of social justice and peaceful coexistence, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, ecology and community economies, and more — a dialogue that ran out of time but should not stop. "It was simply an overwhelming experience," summed up one Bremen participant enthusiastically. The name of the block seminar, appropriately: ”An Anthropology of the Possible”.

For three weeks on Sundays and Mondays, thirty Cultural Studies bachelor students met online with twelve students from the University of Rojava. Rojava is a self-administered Kurdish autonomous region in northern and eastern Syria, which is more or less tolerated by the Assad regime. Although peace in the region is still threatened by repeated attacks by Turkey and Turkey-backed militias, the large city of Qamishlo has survived the war in Syria comparatively unscathed. The new University of Rojava was founded there in 2016. Université Paris 8 and Washington State University, among others, responded to an international call for university cooperation by Dr Sardar Saadi, director of the Institute of Social Sciences. The concrete proposal for a joint seminar on an anthropology of the possible, as conceived by Dr Ulrike Flader and Prof Dr Götz Bachmann from the University of Bremen, was immediately taken up.

“We see this cooperation with Rojava also in terms of collaborative anthropology, which is translated here into joint research-based teaching and learning, and a global, democratic responsibility that already distinguishes the University of Bremen in its efforts to collaborate with Scholars at Risk and the University in Exile Consortium," says Flader.

In the online seminar, participants from Bremen and Rojava discussed and compared approaches to ecology, feminism, alternative economies and self-management that are practised in Rojava and found in various social movements in Germany. Discussions were in English, German and Kurdish with simultaneous translation (funded by the University of Bremen). Despite this language barrier, all participants concluded that such an exchange is not only possible, but so enriching, engaging and enlightening that it absolutely must be continued.

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