New World Academy Readers
New World Academy Reader #5: Stateless Democracy

New World Academy Readers

By Kajal Ahmed, Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya, Janet Biehl, Murray Bookchin, Dilar Dirik, Zîlan Diyar, David Graeber, Havin Güneşer, Abdullah Öcalan, Joost Jongerden, Gönül Kaya, Pinar Öğünç, Jonas Staal, Hito Steyerl, Renée In der Maur, Kurdish Women’s

New World Academy is an alternative learning platform for art and politics established by artist Jonas Staal and BAK. Developed together with the Kurdish Women’s Movement as a nomadic platform that unfolding throughout 2015, the fifth sequence of the New World Academy explores—from artistic, activist, and scholarly perspectives—the proposition of delinking democracy from the nation-state: the notion of “stateless democracy.” On this occasion, the fifth reader of the New World Academy, titled Stateless Democracy, has been published.

If initially the Kurdish struggle, led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had aimed to establish an independent state, since the 1990s PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, together with the Kurdish Women’s Movement, have turned to questioning the patriarchal and capitalist nature of the very concept of the nation-state itself. Within this process the Kurdish revolutionary movement developed an alternative model called “democratic confederalism” or “stateless democracy” that invoked a confederate composition in which gender-equality, self-governance, secularism, cultural diversity, communal economy, and social ecology form key pillars.

Since 2012 this proposition has been put fully into practice in Rojava, Western Kurdistan in Syria, in alliance with the peoples of the region. New World Academy Reader #5: Stateless Democracy provides key texts that offer an overview of both the political and cultural dimensions comprising what has now come to be known to history as the Rojava Revolution. The texts in the reader are as much an introduction to the model of stateless democracy practiced in Rojava, as a potential political paradigm through which to confront the many related crises in politics, economy, and ecology that we face across the world.

With contributions by: Kajal Ahmed (poet and journalist), Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya (political and social scientist), Janet Biehl (writer, editor, and graphic artist), Murray Bookchin (libertarian socialist author), Dilar Dirik (researcher and representative of the Kurdish Women’s Movement), Zîlan Diyar(Kurdish guerrilla fighter), David Graeber (anthropologist), Havin Güneşer (journalist and spokesperson of “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan”), Joost Jongerden(sociologist and anthropologist), Gönül Kaya (journalist and representative of the Kurdish Women’s Movement), Abdullah Öcalan (founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)), Pinar Öğünç (journalist), Jonas Staal (artist and writer), and Hito Steyerl (artist, documentary filmmaker, and writer).

Edited by Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal in dialogue with the Kurdish Women’s Movement (and in particular Dilar Dirik, Kurdish activist and a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge) this fifth reader examines the itineraries of the Kurdish Women’s Movement—an umbrella organization that has been foundational in shaping the political objectives of the Kurdish liberation movement internationally.

Realization of this publication has been made possible by financial support from the DOEN Foundation, Amsterdam and the Creative Europe Programma of the European Union.

Table of contents


Maria Hlavajova


Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal

Living Without Approval

Dilar Dirik Interviewed by Jonas Staal


Havin Güneşer

The Whole World is Talking about Us, Kurdish Women

Zîlan Diyar

Why Jineology? Re-Constructing the Sciences Towards a Communal and Free Life

Gönül Kaya

Democratic Confederalism (excerpts)

Abdullah Öcalan

The Meaning of Confederalism

Murray Bookchin

The Social Contract

Reassembling the Political: The PKK and the Project of Radical Democracy

Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya and Joost Jongerden

No. This is a Genuine Revolution

David Graeber Interviewed by Pınar Öğünç

Revolutionary Education: Two Academies in Rojava

Janet Biehl

Kobanê Is Not Falling

Hito Steyerl

Theater of the Stateless

Jonas Staal

Bird (excerpt)

Kajal Ahmed


Editors: Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal in dialogue with Dilar Dirik

Associate Editor: Seyma Bayram

Design: Remco van Bladel, Amsterdam in collaboration with Corine van der Wal

Published by: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 978-90-77288-22-1

Price: € 5

Unfortunately the printed copies of this reader are sold out. You can still view the reader online when you click here.


Jonas Staal, Anatomy of a Revolution—R
Jonas Staal, Anatomy of a Revolution—Rojava, 2015, class room for educating the People’s Defense Units (YPG), Rojava, West Kurdistan (Syria)

New World Academy #5: Stateless Democracy

Special forces of the Women’s Defense
Special forces of the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) look out over their training camp situated near Qamişlo, part of a 2014 photo series by Jonas Staal, titled Anatomy of a Revolution — Rojava, and published in The New World Academy Reader #5: Stateles