Stateless Democracy: The Revolution in Rojava Kurdistan is the inaugural conference of the fifth edition of New World Academy (NWA). You may view a video recording of the conference on the left.
This conference discusses the current Kurdish resistance in Kobanê, Rojava against ISIS. With help of representatives from the Kurdish movement as well as specialists in the field, it explores the politics and culture of Rojava and the reasons behind the formation and growth of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The question as to what and how the international community and civil society can help is also addressed—not only to stop ISIS, but more crucially, to support a movement from within the region that is offering a new democratic horizon from which the world can learn.
Keynote speakers include: Dilşah Osman (co-president of the Kurdish Democratic Society Congress in Europe, KCD-E), Dilar Dirik (PhD researcher and activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement, Cambridge), and Joost Jongerden (researcher and specialist of the Kurdish Movement, Wageningen University), with further contributions by Jolle Demmers (co-founder of the Centre for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht), Dilan Yezilgoz-Zegerius (former Amnesty International specialist on Turkey and council member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, VVD), Jasper Blom (scientific bureau of the Green Party, GroenLinks), Golrokh Nafisi (artist), and Jonas Staal (artist and founder of the New World Summit, Rotterdam).
The inaugural conference of NWA #5 is organized by a collaborative alliance between BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht; Centre for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht; and De Balie, Amsterdam.
New World Academy #5: Stateless Democracy unfolds as a nomadic learning platform over an extended period of time. Its inaugural session takes place on Tuesday, 21 October 2014, at 19.30 hrs in the form of a conference titled Stateless Democracy: The Revolution in Rojava Kurdistan at De Balie, Amsterdam.
The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has often been portrayed as a fight between the West and its Arab allies against Islamic ultra-fundamentalists. Over the last several years, however, a progressive Kurdish-led resistance has been forming in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) amidst the Syrian Civil War. The resistance has successfully implemented new models of grassroots democracy, gender equality, and sustainable ecology—its members practicing a political project they refer to as Democratic Confederalism. Women and men stand side-by-side in its armed forces in the face of both ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Despite the resistance’s efforts, Rojava is currently threatened by a massacre, and the international community continues to stand by silently as tragedy unfolds.
New World Academy (NWA) is an educational platform that invites stateless political organizations to exchange with artists and students on the role of art and culture in political struggle. It is established by artist Jonas Staal in collaboration with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, and functions as a department of the New World Summit, an artistic and political organization dedicated to developing parliaments for organizations banned from democracy. This fifth session of NWA, titled Stateless Democracy, is brought to life with the Kurdish Women’s Movement. Unlike the previous four sessions, NWA #5 is envisioned as a nomadic platform that unfolds over an extended period of time and is realized in collaboration with various individual and institutional partners in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and internationally.
In establishing New World Academy (NWA),
artist Jonas Staal and
BAK conjoin their efforts to launch a new academy that invites political
organizations invested in the progressive political project to share with
artists and students their views on the role of art and culture in political
struggles. Together, they engage in critical thinking through concrete examples
of transformative politics and develop collaborative projects that question and
challenge the various frameworks of justice and existing models of
representation. NWA proposes new critical alliances between
art and progressive politics, so as to confront the democratic deficit in our
current politics, economy, and culture.
The first three sessions of NWA are
organized at BAK in collaboration with the cultural workers of the National
Democratic Movement of the Philippines, the collective of refugees We Are Here,
and the open-source advocates of the international Pirate Parties. Each
session is followed by collective public presentations, performances,
campaigns, and exhibitions.
The curriculum of NWA develops from
concrete case studies—models of cultural activism as both an imaginative and
practical force in shaping the democratic project—ranging from the educative
“protest puppetry” of the Maoist National Democratic Movement in the
Philippines and the cultural protests organized in the Netherlands by the
refugee group We Are Here, to the attempts by international Pirate Parties to
advance open-source models in favor of free, digital distribution of knowledge.
Demonstrating that the political and the cultural can indeed
cohabit the same plane, these examples propose an alternative collective
infrastructure to confront what Staal calls “democratism,” that is, “the
disastrous present of the world dominated by the condition of capitalist
democracy.” In recognizing the commonalities in the entangled discontents and
massive civil uprisings across the globe, NWA actively engages
the role of art within movements that challenge the maddeningly complex network
of contemporary power relations.