Accepted Paper:

Decolonising Minds and Curriculums: Critical Pedagogy, Ethnographic Filmmaking and Activist Scholarship at the Time of Political Conflict in the Kurdish Region of Turkey  
Mehmet Kurt (LSE)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects my personal journey as an activist scholar, teacher and an ‘embedded’ ethnographer of my own society and discusses the ways in which I employed participatory and collective documentary filmmaking in my teaching during the urban conflict in the Kurdish region of Turkey in 2016.

Paper long abstract:

The Kurdish region of Turkey was turned into a war zone following the termination of the peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in 2015. The ensuing conflicts resulted in the death of more than 2,000 civilians and the forced displacement of half a million Kurds. Amid all the chaos, I was conducting an ethnographic fieldwork on youth radicalisation across the Turkish-Syrian border areas and teaching anthropology at a newly established provincial University in Bingöl. Both my work and teaching suffered from the consequences of the on-going turmoil, which rendered the classical approaches to my tasks obsolete. In the spring of 2016, I brought seven of my students together, all from distinctive political and ethnic backgrounds reflective of Turkey’s diversity, for an extracurricular activity, a reading group. The idea was to create a platform for a group of students with conflicting ideologies to have a meaningful discussion on contemporary issues and political violence. In two contrasting spaces, outside in nature and inside my living room, students who inhabit conventionally opposing identities and values on topics such as governing laws, civil rights, gender roles, and racial profiling, committed to discuss freely and learn from each other. My ethnographic film, the Seven Doors, which received the Jean Rouch Award in 2020, documents these encounters and transformations. In this paper, I will be reflecting on the critical and radical pedagogies I employed in this reading group, and the ways in which I benefitted from filmmaking in my teaching.

Panel P24
Encountering reality as crisis: documentary, ethnographic media and education
  Session 1