The 2013-2018 project's results

Research project: How to Make a Voice Audible? Continuity and Change of Kurdish Culture and of Social Reality in Postcolonial Perspectives


The 5-year team research project (2013-2018) directed by Joanna Bocheńska focused on the analysis of the selected social and cultural aspects of the dynamic Kurdish reality. The main result of the project is the book Rediscovering Kurdistan's Cultures and Identities: The Call of The Cricket, Palgrave Macmillan 2018. There were a few main topics that were studied in the scope of the postcolonial perspective, which served as an umbrella for different research subjects:

  • The ethical dimension of Kurdish culture in relation to traditional and modern literary and cinema narratives (Joanna Bocheńska). According to the research results the contemporary Kurdish narratives build and develop the modern moral imagination that shapes and furnishes the meaning of dignity understood in this study as “recognising the miracle of life with its finite and corporeal context”. Such a new imaginary framework offers a more complicated social and psychological image of a human being and calls for attention and care for human life. However, it sometimes contradicts the traditional narratives that were based on the notion of honour understood mostly as ‘the readiness to die for something’.
  • Socio-political role of the Kurdish cultural institutions (Renata Kurpiewska-Korbut). The study provided information about the organisational field, networks and general issues around which the activity of the Kurdish cultural institutions is formed in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and diaspora. In most of the countries the Kurdish cultural institutions play the role of governmental organisations by focusing on reviving and promoting the Kurdish language and cultural heritage. It challenges the assimilation policy of the states such as Turkey and Iran.
  • The role of translation into the Kurdish language in creating new social, moral and cultural values (Marcin Rzepka). The research focused on the Kurdish translations of the Bible in the 19th and 20th centuries. Initially, the translation of the Bible was understood as a part of missionary work. However, in time it gained a more cultural meaning and was conducted by the Kurds too. The research provided insight into the many initiatives with regard to the Bible translations, information on the interpreters and about the meaning of the Bible for Kurdish culture.
  • Relations between Kurds and Christian minorities (Krzysztof Lalik). The study revealed the many different levels of relations between Chaldo-Assyrians and Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan. They are based on both Kurdish (and Muslim) domination but also on the mutual consensus and cooperation revealed in many fields.
  • Also, two other researchers cooperated with the team and contributed to the research project. Karol Kaczorowski studied the Construction of ethnic identity among young Kurdish migrants in Istanbul (within the Preludium 5 program of the NCN). Artur Rodziewicz focused on the Yezidis and their sacred texts (Eros and Pearl in the Yezidi Cosmogony within the Fuga 5 program of the NCN).
  • The main result of the research project is a co-authored book by the six above mentioned researchers entitled Rediscovering Kurdistan’s Cultures and Identities: The Call of The Cricket, Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict, Palgrave Macmillan 2018. The book and the study by the Polish team contribute greatly to the development of Kurdish studies in Poland and abroad. Still, the Kurdish issue is mostly discussed by journalists and political science specialists whereas the Kurdish culture and society remain very much neglected topics. The ethical aspects of the modern Kurdish culture have never been studied before and there are only a very few publications on Kurdish literature or cinema available internationally. Similarly, the Kurdish cultural institutions are described for the first time. Also, the role of Bible translation and of Kurdish-Assyrian relations are very unique subjects and open new perspectives in the field.


Book description:


Rediscovering Kurdistan’s Cultures and Identities: The Call of the Cricket offers insight into little-known aspects of the social and cultural activity and changes taking place in different parts of Kurdistan (Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran), linking different theoretical approaches within a postcolonial perspective. The first chapter presents the book’s approach to postcolonial theory and gives a brief introduction to the historical context of Kurdistan. The second, third and fourth chapters focus on the Kurdish context, examining ethical changes as revealed in Kurdish literary and cinema narratives, the socio-political role of the Kurdish cultural institutions and the practices of countering othering of Kurdish migrants living in Istanbul. The fifth chapter offers an analysis of the nineteenth-century missionary translations of the Bible into the Kurdish language. The sixth chapter examines the formation of Chaldo-Assyrian identity in the context of relations with the Kurds after the overthrow of the Ba’ath regime in 2003. The last chapter investigates the question of the Yezidis’ identity, based on Yezidi oral works and statements about their self-identification




Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Between Honour and Dignity: Kurdish literary and cinema narratives and their attempt to rethink identity and resistance, Joanna Bocheńska

Chapter 3: The Socio-Political Role of Modern Kurdish Cultural Institutions, Renata Kurpiewska-Korbut

Chapter 4: Countering Othering: Social negotiations of identity among new Kurdish migrants in Istanbul, Karol Kaczorowski

Chapter 5: Translation, Power and Domination: The postcolonial explorations of the Bible in the Kurdish context, Marcin Rzepka

Chapter 6: Ethnic and Religious Factors of Chaldo-Assyrian Identity in an Interface with the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, Krzysztof Lalik

Chapter 7: The Nation of the Sur: The Yezidi identity between modern and ancient myth, Artur Rodziewicz



About the book:


"This volume marks a major addition to Kurdish studies. It paints an innovative, historically differentiated, and theoretically informed picture of cultural and religious life among different ethnic groups in Kurdistan, and among Kurds living elsewhere. Jointly, its contributions take us far beyond the reductionist narratives of conflict, war, and resistance that dominate much of the existing literature.”

Michiel Leezenberg, Professor, Amsterdam University



"Joanna Bocheńska and her colleagues have placed Kraków on the map as a vibrant centre of Kurdish studies. This book gives an excellent overview of the wide range of their interests and the originality of their approach. Each of the chapters contributes new insights in the social and cultural dynamics of modern Kurdish society, with a strong emphasis on religious minorities. Highly recommended to both scholars and the general public."

Martin van Bruinessen, Professor, Utrecht University