Violence and Freedom: Politics of Kurdish Children – Part II

Haydar Darıcı

In a research he conducted on African societies, anthropologist Charles Piot asserts that individuals cannot be considered independent of the social context and community dynamics that define them (Piot, 1997: 17). According to Piot, people in these societies are defined, and even constructed by social relationships. For this reason, he proposes: “people don’t have relationships, they are relations” (ibid.). Piot describes a fluid, diffusive subject that is permeable and pluralistic in its relation to other subjects (Ibid.). Such a conceptualization of the subject might be useful for understanding the political subjectivity of Kurdish children. Because what facilitates the construction of relational subjects, and determines how childhood is and will be experienced is the constant remembering and transmitting of a common history and experiences.

Evidently the constant rendition of violence stories is linked to experiences in urban life. Victims of forced migration were subject to blatant state violence. Yet, the violence did not end when they migrated to the city but rather took on different manifestations; moreover it was combined with different forms of violence such as poverty and exclusion. The stories told about the violence in the village provide the children with the backdrop to recount the difficulties experienced in the city today. In other words, rather than the past being a trace in the present, the present becomes a trace in the past, because more implicit forms of violence such as poverty and exclusion encountered in the city today are expressed with more difficulty compared to the open state violence in the past. Stories of violence from the past help children make sense of the hardships today and to denominate the discrimination in the city.

On the other hand, the circulating stories also signify an empowering form of knowledge for the collective subjects. The knowledge constituted by experience and the act of narration denote the oppression of Kurds and the cruelty of the state, yet the loss and grievance experienced by the Kurdish people is expressed with rage as opposed to grief. According to the children no matter how much violence the state exerts, it will only serve to amplify their rage. This knowledge is also the very factor that motivates children to participate in demonstrations.

Kuto[11]: See, two three years ago I would slander DTP, but my grandfather died, my father told me things, how they burned the village and stuff, my uncle’s incident. And since two three years I became like this.

As illustrated in the quote above, the knowledge devised through witnessing violence or internalizing the testimonies of others mobilizes children. The repertoire I talk about includes not only the violence stories form the villages, but also pertinent current political developments. Children closely follow discussions around the Kurdish issue on the TV and the internet. For instance a child was wounded during a demonstration in Hakkâri. The next day DTP organized a protest against the military operations in Adana. Before the demonstration, one of the children came out of an internet cafe and said “the boy in Hakkâri has become a martyr.” The demonstration was just about to start and the news immediately spread. The children were saying this news had to enrage them more, so “they’d fight harder with the police.”

All the children I interviewed were in primary school. They said that teachers constantly tried to influence them through violence and persuasion. Children who closely follow political developments regarding the Kurdish issue over the media are also constantly discussing this issue with their teachers at school.

Murat: My teacher says there is democracy, what democracy I say, he says what do you mean there’s no democracy. I said for example Ahmet Türk spoke Kurdish in the parliament, why was he banned. He said that’s the parliament, Turkey’s official language is Turkish. I said why does the prime minister speak it, he said that was for a TV channel opening. I said so why do they speak English, French and that’s not banned but Kurdish is. The teacher was now silent. The teacher almost took our side. There is a teacher, we say are you Kurdish, he says yes, but it is like Turkish blood flows, I feel Turkish he says. For example, you know we said they don’t allow speaking Kurdish, we were in Turkish class, I brought this up. I said to the teacher why did they immediately stop the broadcast when Ahmet Türk began to speak Kurdish, he said that’s the parliament, Turkish is spoken there, I said Obama spoke English, they speak all sorts of languages. Be quiet, he said, I said well why did they exile Ahmet Kaya? I said they exiled him because he said he’d make a Kurdish song, there you are oppressing the Kurds. He says be quiet to everything and when you continue, he comes and hits you. Edî bese [enough already].

Halil: See, we speak in Kurdish with our friends in class, and the teachers say why do you speak Kurdish. We say if we are Kurdish we will speak Kurdish. If you are Turkish you speak Turkish. You say yourself there is democracy in Turkey, if there is democracy don’t we have a right to speak.

Kuto: Well, like we always shout slogans in the class, we’d also do it outside but there are cameras. A hundred people, you know we’re all Kurdish so we gather together a hundred people, we shout. We don’t shout outside because there are cameras, but in class we bang on the desks, “we are not terrorists, we are PKK guerillas.”

H: Don’t you have any decent teachers?

K: No, all of them are scum.

M: They say there’s one very good teacher but I didn’t see him but they say he’s very good.

K: For example the other day a teacher’s jacket was stolen, he called us, we’re anyway the dirtiest in the school, we have a few more friends, we’re all in the same class, he called us, said if you don’t bring my jacket back I’ll have you kicked out of school. There is a DTP supporter girl, probably all her family is from DTP, she held the teacher’s bag, the teacher beat her up and she beat the teacher up. I saw the teacher crying and we shouted a slogan, “we’re not thieves, we’re students.” As we were going out the door, I kicked him, he fell down, didn’t see us, everybody split. I shout next to him, I support Apo, he says I’ll get you kicked out of school, but can’t do anything either.

All these quotes indicate that the school has become a field of struggle for teachers and students. The presence of these children at school, their discussions, political motivations not only disrupt the spatial organization of the school as a state institution, but also challenge the foundations the school or education constructs itself upon. Only one of the children I interviewed stated that he would continue his education after primary school. And he said that the reason he wanted to continue going to school was because he wanted to be a lawyer, because Kurdish people need lawyers since they are constantly arrested. Other children said that once they finished the compulsory primary education they would not go back to school. So these children either completely reject education or they want to continue because they think they can use the education they receive in school to support the Kurdish movement.

Violence and Freedom

Violence is a constitutive element in all social relations in the neighborhood. Everything, including bodies, is made sense of in reference to violence and violence becomes a way of life. What’s more, the language of violence is the only language children have. The narratives of all children begin and end with stories of violence. Thus violence becomes the primary theme of narratives. According Paul Ricoeur, “the event is not what happens. The event is that which can be narrated” (cited in Feldman, 1991: 15). And in this context since violence determines what can be narrated and what is not worth recounting, it also constructs the structure of the narratives. One of my initial questions at the interviews pertained to where the interviewee was from and why they migrated. Since the village is coded and remembered as the space where state inflicts violence, everything related to the village and migration is framed by state violence:

Berivan[12]: I don’t remember much but I remember they beat up my parents in the house. They searched the house inside out, took away the books, tapes they found, everything. They burned all those books they found right before our eyes. Well, for example we had photos, our albums, pictures from the mountain, they burned them all. Horrible things happened. They were plainclothes cops and at the time those were very cruel. You didn’t know when they would come. They’d come trashing in, kicking down doors. And the moment they beat my mother I can remember even now. They pulled my mom’s hair, beat up my father. It really offended me. They dragged my older sister out like this. I remember. They stayed in jail one night. My sisters and brothers were tortured there.

Kuto: They bombed my grandpa’s village, launched rockets. Two years ago we went you know, and this happened three-four years ago. And my grandpa died last you know, it was about a year ago, the soldiers had planted mines, I mean to shoot the guerillas, and then as a passenger minibus was passing through, my grandpa was in it, we also had another relative, like four people died there. Then my younger uncle, if he lived now he’d be like thirty, they threw him in a well. They raided my grandpa’s house, for you know aiding and abetting, they fed those on the mountains and stuff, they came, raided, and my uncle was playing by the well, they pushed him, he tripped on the fence, he tripped and fell into the well.

However the language of violence is not only used in the village narratives, but also when talking about the urban space, due to the violence experienced at the police station, the school, at home and on the street. Yet the narration of the violence in the village (the past) is very different from the narration of the violence in the city (the present). Even though the children have not experienced it themselves, they employ a language of victimhood as they coherently and lucidly describe the past events of village burnings, torture, death and loss of everything. In these stories while Kurdish people are depicted as the objects of violence, the state appears as the subject of violence. As I mentioned before, the reason why these stories are told over and over again in the same way is that this blatant state violence creates the legitimate ground for the children’s present politics. On the other hand, even though the experiences of children in urban life are not so different from the experiences in the village, today’s hardships are expressed with considerably more difficulty. Children have a preset language, collectively formulated and transmitted stories, that is, an entire repertoire to depict the state oppression in the past. However, they have no such repertoire, preset language or narrative to convey the hardships of the present; they need to create their own language and stories. Thus things pertaining to the present are either told in fragments or not conveyed at all. What’s more, children construct themselves as both the object and the subject of violence in their narratives. Thus, the language they employ is not one of victimhood, but to the contrary, one of resistance to injustice. Yet this injustice refers not to the present but rather to the past. In other words, children say that their struggle is against the injustices their parents or the Kurds in general have suffered in the past.

The children mobilized within the Kurdish movement organize various demonstrations and actions. Since, compared to the past, it is now youth and children who are more active in politics, the police are more focused on these groups. Thus the children are routinely subject to police violence:

Berivan: They constantly raid houses during demonstrations… They were insulting. The words they used, the cursing, such ugly curses no one would use, really. As if we are abandoned, helpless. Actually if DTP party was not behind us, it’s like we’re abandoned… Plainclothes picked us up at school, we went in cuffs and stuff, what they asked at the interrogation: so who will save you, the party? That’s the question they asked, they said are you going to the party, anyway, you can’t even say yes, they didn’t give us a chance to respond, and of course they beat us up some. We’ve got used to getting beat up by them, seriously.

Most of the children spoke about how they felt abandoned in state institutions such as the school and the police station. On the other hand, DTP appears as an institution that gives them a sense of belonging and protection. In arguments and fights, while Turkish children threaten to turn in Kurdish children to the police, Kurdish children threaten to turn in Turkish children to DTP. Since being in custody and under arrest have become prevalent experiences for children, the routine police violence creates an antagonism between the state and the children. Because their encounters with the “others” outside the neighborhood are shaped by violence, what they deemed worthy of telling me as a researcher mostly consisted of stories of violence.

Erhan: For example one day I hadn’t gone to the demonstration but I got caught, just like that, without asking any questions they attacked me.

H: How old were you then?

E: I was eight. Even when I was eight they took me without asking any questions, I stayed in custody for two days. Then even though I was eight they took me in custody. It was offensive, and then I stayed in for four months when I was 12. I stayed in jail for four months.

H: When you were in custody those two days, do you remember them?

E: Staying in custody two days, I mean, time not passing, without really knowing what, you get offended, to that degree. I mean it really pissed me off, those two days, two days, I mean even if it were just half an hour, being arrested when you’re right, that enraged me.

H: Did you go to demonstrations after that, after those two days?

E: I didn’t quit, I participated again, I mean because it offended me, I participated in all.

H: You were also arrested when you were twelve, what happened then?

E: Then we had a hearing and stuff, we went to trial, we had a lawyer, a lawyer, the lawyer talked, I mean they threw me in jail without evidence. You know they took me to court, prolonged it intentionally, prolonged it a day, you know since I am Kurdish, they anyway asked are you Kurdish, I said I am, I mean I’m not going to shrink.

H: So you stayed for four months, right, how was that?

E: Time wouldn’t pass, we couldn’t defend ourselves, we got more and more enraged, against them, them holding me here, at that age I shouldn’t even be in jail, there is no such law, I mean imagine, there is no evidence anyway and what’s more you can’t even vote till you’re 18, so this means you don’t have the capacity to, if I don’t have the capacity, then you have no right to put me in jail. If I can’t vote they don’t have the right to put me in jail, if they arrest me then I should vote. I mean then let me vote as well. Let me vote, so I can go to jail but I can’t vote. When I first got out (of prison) time passing very quickly, you know being able to go where you want, it’s something to stay inside but going around as you please, that’s also something.

The political violence in the neighborhood is not limited to this: The police regularly raid houses. Actually almost all the children I spoke with in the neighborhood have also been taken into custody or were arrested at least once for thievery and fights.

The school is also one of the spaces where children are subject to violence. All the children recounted how they have been beaten by teachers for their political opinions and practices. Moreover, Kurdish children are taken into custody, and are even arrested because of the slogans they write in their notebooks, political discussions with their teachers and fights and quarrels between Turkish and Kurdish students. Plainclothes and uniform police go around the main streets of the neighborhood at all hours throughout the day and stop children for random identity checks.

Erhan: I don’t know, the police ask for ID cards out of the blue, for example he asks, did you go to jail for politics, for this or that, they say they trick you, don’t they. They give you money to do this, they say, yet it’s all lies, I mean they’re making things up, they give you money, they you this and that. They say for instance, the child is on trial, he says I did it for money, but it’s a lie, it’s police pressure. It’s all pressure, all a lie, for example he says I caught your friend as well, I know this very well, they immediately throw bait, I caught your friend, he gave your name they say, I say bring my friend and we’ll talk then. Bring him if you caught him.

The violence in the neighborhood is not confined to the school, the police station or the street, and neither are the police and nor other representatives of the state the only ones who exert violence. Violence has spread to all spheres in the neighborhood; it is also a defining element of family relations.

While children of families subject to forced migration are born into an environment where displacement is amplified by other forms of violence in the city, parents undergo a second defeat in the city as they have difficulty in adapting to urban life. During the field research, I observed that in most forced migrant families the father did not work, and children provided for the family. The reason why fathers don’t work is that while they had a certain status in the village, they’ve become unskilled workers in the city. Job opportunities for them are very limited as well: they work in construction, sell produce at open markets or become street vendors. And most fathers do not want to work because they think these jobs are humiliating. However, children have more job opportunities as they can work as apprentices at barbershops, carpenters and tailors. Also since children go to school, they speak better Turkish than their parents, and undertake significant bureaucratic responsibilities for the families such as paying bills, preparing the necessary documents to collect aid distributed by the governorship or municipality. Since some parents know no Turkish, their children take them to the hospital. All of these put children in a position of power inside family relations. Furthermore, since children regard themselves as more political than their families and are in fact more active in politics, a form of familial relationship we are unaccustomed to emerges. Children think their families have been intimidated and silenced by state violence. However, children share the information that the state oppresses Kurdish people through the media, and in particular the internet. According to them, unlike their parents this knowledge of oppression leads to rage against the state. At the same time fathers who lose their status and power within the family exert more violence on the children to reestablish their authority. Most of the children I spoke to said that they were often beaten up by their fathers:

Murat: When my father hit, he’d jump on the sofa and hit, jump and hit. He was overweight, and large. He’d hit me in the stomach, does it hurt, he’d say, when I said it did, he’d hit me more. He says, where does it hurt, where, I say here, then he hits, bam bam (laughs).

Children themselves become inflictors of violence. In response to the violence directed at them, they exert violence on their teachers, the police, even their families. Violence thus becomes the determining factor of children’s experiences and the basic structure of their narrative. Interestingly enough children offer rational explanations as to why they become subjects of violence: For them violence is the only way to avoid more violence.

Erhan: What’s the police to do, if you don’t resist, if you shrink before them, they’ll begin to crush you. When you resist, they can’t do anything. If you don’t resist, the police beats you up, comes to your house and beats you, if you resist they know you’re not scared, they can’t do anything. So if they swear you should swear right back. But if you’re scared, they crush you more. They do more. And the police are also surprised, they’re surprised, how can they shout back at us at this age. I mean, you know they are surprised, how can they push back, they are surprised. There is surprise and there is fear. You know, if they are doing this at this age, what’ll they do in the future. Anyway they fear children the most. The police, when I first went in, in front of the school anyway the police hit one of my relatives, we fought with the police, so we aren’t afraid of them. I mean they hit one of us, get their club and hit us, we take the club and beat him up. It happened many times, we even crushed one’s head, we were taken to court for it.

Murat: The teacher is afraid of Erhan (Erhan walks in at that moment), no Erhan, I have nothing against you the teacher said.

E: You know that teacher, I beat that teacher up. We’re in class, now he’s walking around the kid next to me, you know looking for an excuse to beat him. He came and went, came and went, the kid did something, he immediately walked towards him, was going to beat him, just as he was about to hit him, I hit him. Since that year he doesn’t touch me.

Kuto: The other day you know there is a ruler, aluminum, now we were talking with friends, I said something, I saw the entire class was laughing. I gave the finger behind her, ooo she said, the woman hit me, hit me, hit me, it didn’t hurt, finally I looked, it hit the bone, I got angry, I got up, held her hair, slapped her, come touch me again I’ll hit you more I said.

Beating teachers is the only way to avoid being beaten by teachers. Attacking the police (or not being scared of them) is the only way to avoid police violence. Children devise these strategies based on their own everyday experiences. For example they have learned from experience that if they fall down as they are beaten by the police, they’ll get hit more. Their joining or wanting to join gangs is also directly linked to this situation because they think if they have the gang behind them no one will dare touch them. In this context these children most of whom smoke hash, voluntarily assume the identity of a psychopath identity when need be. This psychopath identity awards them an immunity among family and friends. At the same time the children also inflict violence upon themselves. One indicator of this is the countless razor marks on the arms of most children in the neighborhood. They also scratch the skin on their arms with matches and write words like “hate,” “rage,” “revenge.”

It should be noted that the children also feel a sense of belonging to the neighborhood via violence and struggle. With their demonstrations, conflicts on the street and their political groups they make the neighborhood -and in the respect the city- their own. I asked them if they wanted to go back to their hometowns:

Erhan: I’d stay here (Adana), you know I’ve set up everything here, I mean I got to know my people, I mean I wouldn’t leave the people I’m together with. The party things, my friends, that’s why I can’t leave.

Erhan says he does not want to return to his hometown because he can’t leave his people and the party, yet the hometown he speaks about is Diyarbakır, which is considered the capital of Kurdistan and the center of Kurdish politics. However, it’s not just Erhan who thinks this way, none of the children I interviewed or talked with want to go back to their hometowns. This does not only imply that the Kurdish movement has transcended the borders of Kurdistan, it also shows that, as I mentioned above, Kurdishness is not defined in reference to a piece of land (or language) but with struggle. If Kurdishness is a resistance for these children, then Kurdistan signifies not a resistance but a defeat. As I previously noted, the village is defined and recounted by them only as a space where the state exerts violence. Yet Gündoğan neighborhood is recalled and narrated as the center of a large resistance and a rebel PKK region. Thus the children feel a belonging to Gündoğan, but they also say they are fighting to found Kurdistan. Where is this Kurdistan? Where will this Kurdistan be founded? I think Kurdistan no longer signifies a specific region; it rather transforms into an empty signifier that is always a bit distant for the children.

Until now I tried to depict how children become both the subjects and objects of violence in a neighborhood where all relationships are defined through violence. If a non-violent space and non-violent relationship cannot exist in this environment, how are we to understand the children’s politics constructed around violence? If children render the urban space their own through violence and struggle, and can exist through violence, what is the relationship between violence and freedom? And in this context how can we conceptualize violence and freedom? I will try to respond to these questions with reference to Georges Bataille.

Bataille argues that what defines a society is not production relations as claimed by Marxists, but rather the consumption relationships, that is how the surplus energy produced (“accursed share”) is consumed (Noys, 2000: 103). According to Bataille, the struggle for sovereignty is actually a struggle about how the useless and thus consumable “accursed share” is consumed. Along this line, what constitutes the accursed share in the society I am trying to depict? The foundation and operation of capitalism is linked to the control of demographics. Joost Jongerden argues that the modernization of Turkey is a geographic project because since its outset, the minority population has been forced to migrate from one place to the other with the aim of establishing control and producing Turkish citizenship (Jongerden, 2007: 281). In this context, the Turkish nation state (and the Ottoman empire in its final period) has constructed itself through its mode of intervention to the minority population, which it has regarded as a surplus. We always see Kurdish people being accused of having too many children. In other words, Kurds are accused of having more children than they can productively consume. Kurdish children constitute a surplus neither the state nor the society can consume productively. They are perceived as excess since they are not considered to bear the potential to reproduce either the state or the family. On the other hand, according to Judith Butler bodies which are constructed in public space as social phenomena bear traces of social life entailing various conflicts and struggles (Butler, 2005: 26). In this respect, Kurdish children’s bodies become the transmitters on which the violent history of the Kurdish people, PKK’s struggle in the cities, and the “future” dreams of Kurds are ingrained. And this reveals the reason why Kurdish children are feared and loathed so while childhood is associated with innocence. Kurdish children in urban space become the source of the demographic fear of Turkish society. Symbolizing the increasing Kurdish population, they become a “demographic ticking time bomb” for the Turks (Collins, 61). And for this reason, the bodies of Kurdish children become a site of struggle. While the state tries to control these bodies perceived as objects of fear, children claim their own bodies and assert sovereignty over them through their practice.

Drawing a link between sovereignty and freedom, Bataille analyzes how oppressed people are liberated by performing sovereignty. According to Bataille, violence’s potential to transcend boundaries and norms places violence at the heart of all kinds of struggles for freedom (Noys, 66). Since sovereignty only comes to be through violence when boundaries are trespassed, actually the moment of violence and the moment of freedom are the same thing. Thus Bataille states that the liberation of the oppressed is only possible with sovereignty and violence, as violence corresponds to the moment when the oppressed confront those in power, risk their lives and thus transcend the norms of the sovereign (ibid.). When a person comes to the point of “nothing to lose,” when he sacrifices all that is holding him captive, including his own body, he consumes his own energy and attains the inner experience of sovereignty and thus becomes free (French, 2007: 115). Because when the oppressed transgress norms, when they break off the production relations in which they are produced and reproduced, they also break the mechanism that consumes them. However, the moment of freedom and the moment of defeat come simultaneously because violence that transcends all norms is also a form of self-destruction. Therefore, “waste is a tragic and lived experience” (ibid., 24).

In this neighborhood I am trying to portray, the state asserts its sovereignty by transgressing all norms, and controlling children’s bodies with violence, torture and arrest. On other hand, children constantly perform “there’s nothing left to lose.” While the sovereign is trying to decide how to consume these children it regards as a surplus, children reassume control on how their bodies will be expended by transforming their bodies into both subjects and objects of violence. By transforming their bodies into objects on which they inscribe “hate” and “rage”, by hurting themselves, they turn their bodies into the embodiment of the rage and hatred towards the state and existent order. Thus, they surpass all norms in the performance of expenditure.


It is interesting that this mobilization of Kurdish children that is on Turkey’s agenda has started after the end of the “low-intensity conflict.” How are we to read this radical mobilization of Kurdish children in the context of the 2000s when negotiations between the EU and Turkey gained momentum; reform packages for democratization and minority rights were introduced; particularly in the increasingly hopeful atmosphere of recent years when the feeling that “we’ve never been closer to the solution of the Kurdish problem” is prevalent and the “Kurdish opening” has created hope in everyone? I think this discrepancy necessitates asking the following questions: What really is the Kurdish problem? How can the Kurdish problem be resolved or is there a solution to the Kurdish problem? Apart from the issues expressed in the language of macro-politics, what are the problems encountered in everyday life?

Erhan: Our resistance to it (the state) will always be there. Even if it doesn’t happen, if we can’t succeed, if we can’t win anything, I mean we’ll always resist.

The radical stance of Kurdish children against the state; their struggle nourished by rage and desperation as opposed to a liberal hope; their refusal to engage in a rational negotiation with the system can make possible the imagination of an alternative politics. However, as Kurdish children are constructing a political subjectivity without protecting themselves, accepting all risks and surpassing all norms, and in this context experiencing actual freedom in Bataille’s terms, they are also being subject to open state violence by getting arrested, being tortured and killed in this environment where power is divided unequally.

For Kurdish children the reason behind their oppression is the state and its institutions. Yet as they are struggling against the state, they also transgress the norms of their families, even those of the Kurdish movement. They do not reject the Kurdish movement; they define themselves within the movement and regard Abdullah Öcalan as a leader, a figure who mobilized them. However, they transform the politics of the Kurdish movement form within. What DTP has to forget in order to engage in actual politics -politics of peace, forgiveness, reconciliation and negotiation-, the children constantly remember in everyday life. The history and language they acquire from their families reminds them of state violence each and every day. Their everyday encounters with representatives of the state (police, teachers etc.) reproduce among the children the knowledge that ordinary Turks also play a part in this catastrophe. Even though DTP urges them to forget all these in the name of reconciliation and peace -or perhaps precisely because of it- these shape the children’s conceptions. However, what is significant here is that in the Kurdish movement a different political style emerges in a different generation. And this implies that the trajectory of the Kurdish movement will be shaped by this struggle between different generations. It should also be noted that children’s politics exists on an ambiguous temporal and spatial ground, therefore neither the state nor the Kurdish movement can understand this politics. On the one hand this politics defies norms, boundaries, social and legal laws. On the other, these semi-autonomous organizations produce alternative practices and discourses without rejecting Kurdish organizations or the representatives of the Kurdish movement. Even if they use the same slogans as the movement, they imply different things. For example one child says they fight for Kurdish identity. When I asked him what he meant by Kurdish identity, he said that their identity cards should read “the Republic of Kurdistan” and they should have their own country.

The political subjectivities of Kurdish children points to the possibility of an alternative politics that can transform the demands and the political discourse of the Kurdish movement. Furthermore, Kurdish children’s stories present us with possibilities to re-conceptualize freedom and struggle: Freedom and struggle is not achieved through the language of reconciliation and victimhood, but rather through violence and sovereignty.

Translated from Turkish by Liz Amado




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[11] Kuto is the son of a family from Batman, who were subject to forced migration and came to Adana. He is 16 and goes to primary school and also works at a barbershop in the neighborhood.

[12] Berivan is the only one among the children I interviewed who was not born in Adana. Her family is from Mardin. When Berivan was eight her family migrated to Adana due to the military oppression in their village. She goes to primary school and works at a hair dresser.