Black skins/white languages: artmaking in Western languages by Kurdish migrant women artists

Link for joining the seminar on Teams

Kurdish women from all regions of Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, are leading the advancement of artistic and cultural productions in Europe with a migratory background and a growing interest in the facets and dynamics of postmodern multiculturalism. Their number has increased particularly with the rising number of the second generation. Rather than producing their artistic productions in their own native language or even trying to maintain their native identity and subjectivity, Kurdish women produce their art in the languages of the host countries, and they do not want their works to be distinguished from non-migrant and non-diasporic artists or intellectuals. However, they and their works are still seen as an eclectic mix of marginal, non-Western or non-European aesthetic paradigms. 

In this context, this seminar aims to demonstrate how artistic and cultural productions of Kurdish migrant women, incorporating the fields of visual art, film, theatre and music, are articulated in the host country languages within the opportunity structures of the European nation-states, leading to interrogation of the impact of Western and local knowledge, patriarchy, white privilege and globalisation. It also aims to shed light on the different national migration and gender policies of European states with regard to artistic, cultural and linguistic issues, which encourage the maximisation of well-established networks of educational and intellectual revitalisation, and also reveal the assimilationist policies that restrict the artistic and cultural elites and initiatives. Through the critique of Eurocentrism and ‘whiteness’/ ‘whiteliness’, I will mainly argue that, regardless of the question of artistic intent or the use of European languages, the art produced by Kurdish migrant women becomes politicised not only by their stylistic choices or subject matter, but also as a result of the unique context within which they emerge and the way they are perceived by the audience.


ISCA Departmental Seminar Series Michaelmas 2021

3pm, Fridays (Weeks 2-8) on Teams (link above)

Details will be added here if any of the seminars will also be held in person.

Convened by Elisabeth Hsu and Zuzanna Olszewska