Eleanor Finley: Rojava, Democratic Confederalism, and the U.S.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT
Van Metre Hall (formerly Founders Hall), #118

Eleanor Finley is a guest of the 2023 Next System Speakers Series:

One of the first questions that people ask when presented with the idea of a “next system” built on cooperative economics and mutual aid is what are some practical examples? While the idea of a next system sounds good, how achievable is it in real life? How would such a liberated society be governed? 

In 2012, the Kurdish-majority of Northern Syria (Rojava) overthrew decades of Baathist rule and declared regional autonomy. In doing so, they began to articulate concrete answers to these and other critical questions as their system of democratic confederalism oversees the creation of federated communes united by principles of feminism, ecology, cooperative production and multiculturalism. In the face of genocide, invasion, capitalist cooptation, and steep social, ecological and economic challenges, the Rojava Revolution stands as a beacon of directly-democratic governance. Yet, as we shall see, such “democracy” is constituted by more than a set of policies or procedures. 

In this talk, Eleanor Finley provides an introduction to the Rojava Revolution of 2012, focusing on the unique concepts and historical analysis that guide the Kurdish Freedom Movement’s priorities and initiatives. We will also discuss the proximate conditions of the Rojava Revolution and its impacts on global politics. Finally, we will consider the implications of a “democratic confederalism” here in the U.S., considering the possibility of a convergent evolution in social movement praxis.

Eleanor FinleyEleanor Finley

Eleanor Finley is an activist-scholar and cultural anthropologist who studies themes of social ecology, municipalism, and direct democracy. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as well as an Affiliate Researcher with Next System Studies at George Mason University. She has conducted ethnographic research among social ecologists and the Kurdish Freedom Movement since 2016, in sites such as Southeast Turkey, Germany and the UK. Her first book, Practicing Social Ecology: Democratic Experiments from Burlington to Rojava and Beyond, is forthcoming through Pluto Press. She has also published in outlets such as ROAR Magazine, The Ecologist, and In These Times.

Hosted by Next System Studies at Mason and the Center for Social Science Research.

Sponsored by Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Environmental Science & Policy Department, Institute for Sustainable Earth, Global Affairs Program, CSSR Movement Engaged Research Hub, and the Solidarity Research Center..

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