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Hakan Sandal

Hakan Sandal

The Kurdish Queer Movement: Strategies and Tactics towards Radical Democracy

Supervisor: Dr Ayse Zarakol (Department of Politics and International Studies)



My doctoral research focuses on the intersection of ethnic, gender, and sexual identities during times of war and conflict. Studying how queer activists situate themselves in ethnic and democracy struggles presents a holistic understanding of identity construction processes and resistance practices. Exploring the boundaries and formation of identities in the Kurdish queer context, and studying the Kurdish struggle and the queer struggle together within the framework of resistance and conflict will contribute to gender studies, queer politics, and conflict studies, and will engender new debates on radical queer movements and their emancipatory potential. The research will eventually not only shed light on a queer struggle in the Middle East context, but also provide an alternative reading and historicisation of the Kurdish movement and Turkey, while providing insights into creative transformative resistance practices.

Other Activities:

I convene a seminar series entitled “Methods in Question: Epistemologies of Gender and Sexuality” at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, where scholars from all levels discuss the research methods they employ in their research. In addition to my scholarly work, I am a committee member of Amnesty UK’s LGBTI Network as Campaigns Officer and lead for the East Anglia Region. I previously served in the committees of the Cambridge University Student Union LGBT+ campaign as Black and Minority Ethnic representative and the Cambridge University Mindfulness Society as diversity representative. I write about Kurdish and LGBTI+ politics in various newspapers and journals, including Jadaliyya and openDemocracy.

Research Interests:

My research interests, in addition to Gender and Sexuality Studies, include Critical Theory, Postcolonial Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Diaspora Studies.

Peer-review Publications:

“Decolonial Queer Politics and LGBTI+ Activism in Romania and Turkey", Oxford Encyclopedia of LGBT Politics and Policy (with Dr Bogdan Popa) – (forthcoming, 2019)

Selected Conference Papers:

2018 April: “Queer Imagination of the Middle East: Kurdish Diaspora, Sexuality and Politics”, Interdisciplinary Conference on Kurdish Politics and Societies, Yale University, New Haven, United States.

2017 June: “Queer Imagination of Kurdistan: Diaspora, Gender Identity and Belonging” International Kurdish Migration Conference, Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom.

2014: “Clash of Emotions - The Case of Roboskî”, Turkish Migration Conference 2014, Regents University, London, United Kingdom.

2013: “The Construction of the Sanctity of Death - Roboskî Case”, Turkey's Human Rights Agenda Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

Research Reports:

2016 March: “The two faces of the destruction of Sur: Urban Transformation and Siege in Diyarbakir”, ZAN Institute for Social, Political and Economic Studies.

Invited Talks:

31 May 2018: “The LGBTI+ ban in Turkey and the rise of new forms of resistance”, Centre for Feminist Research, Goldsmiths – University of London, London, United Kingdom.

7 March 2018: “Queer and Kurdish Press Under Siege in Turkey”, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

14 September 2017: “States of Emergency in the Middle East: Turkey’s Kurdish Question and the LGBTI+ Struggle”, Amnesty International Cambridge City Group, Cambridge, United Kingdom.