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Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women's Liberation in the Syrian Kurdistan

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Given the widespread violence and suffering in Syria, it's not unreasonable that outsiders look at the situation as unrelentingly awful. And while the reality of the devastation is undeniable, there is  reason for hope in at least one small pocket of the nation: the cantons of Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan, where in the wake of war people are quietly building one of the most ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 15th 2016 by Pluto Press (first published 2015)
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Ângela Fernandes this e-book is easily accessible in the internet

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The only more important thing going on this world than the Revolution in Rojava is the ecological crisis. The world, and especially the international left, ignores this at their own peril.

An absolutely fascinating book on contemporary history (mostly focused on the years 2011-2016) on a topic that is being wildly ignored by most media because they simply lack the language, and the knowledge to even understand what's going on there. The idea that democracy might take a form other than the pervert
Seanán Mac
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
It offers an interesting overview of what is happening in Rojava, but as the author's write early on, they are implicitly and unreservedly biased which I think serves the importance of what is happening in Rojava poorly.

First the good stuff, it gives a thorough overview of the recent history and the power structures that have been implemented in Rojava, covering much of the specific ins and outs. There is much that is good and praise worthy about what they are apparently attempting to do there (
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic and extremely thorough account of the revolution that has taken place in Rojava 2011-now. Gives a good amount of historical and geographical context so you can understand what's going on and offers insight into nearly every part of life in Rojava under Democratic Autonomy. I'm a Marxist-Leninist, so I disagree with some of the characterizations of 'state socialism'. In fact the place in the world that most resembles Rojava's system of communal democracy is Cuba, supposedly a bureaucrat ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
In Rojava, not one line will be drawn around any patch of soil on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion, or culture.

A great resource on the revolution in Rojava, the new society that they're trying to build, and the challenges they face.

It's insane to me that they're able to build a society more egalitarian and more democratic than ours, and in the middle of a war zone.


A popular joke in the Democratic Autonomy: (view spoiler)
Yngve Skogstad
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book leaves me emotionally conflicted: on the one hand guilty for not having taken the time to search beyond the articles on the military efforts of YPG/YPJ, and properly educate myself on the revolutionary changes occurring on a societal level in Rojava; while on the other hand weeping from joy having had confirmed the inherent goodness of humans and the potentiality of creating change from the bottom-up.

I appreciated the authors going into detail with regards to how the system of democrat
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolutely essential book in understanding the movement in Rojava and the political situation in Syria. Couldn't recommend this book more! ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: radicalism
It's easy to be cynical and find faults on the Left, but the project of the Syrian Kurds (and associates in Northern Kurdistan) offers some hope. When the Arab Spring hit Syria, the PYD, building on long years of organizing and conflict, was able to instigate a social revolution, very much spearheaded by women, and declared Democratic Autonomy. Much of this book details the intricacies of the communes, people's councils, etc., that make up the MGRK (People's Council of West Kurdistan) system, an ...more
Rojava is a democratic, autonomous region in Syrian Kurdistan aiming to build a society based on equality. They're multi-ethnic, multi-religious and actively fighting for women's liberation. These efforts could be utopian, were it not for the costly invasions by neighbors like Turkey and IS, and for the scarcity caused by ruthless international embargoes.

Despite these struggles, Rojava keeps building this progressive society. This book does a fantastic job in explaining the what, why and how. It
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent source, although there have been many developments since it's publication in 2015. I.E. it's now the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). There are seven cantons instead of three. The bottom-up council system, particularly TEV-DEM (movement for democratic society) is different as well.

Still a great introduction. I would recommend the research coming out of the Rojava Information Center (RIC) for on-the-ground updates.
Marc Bedard Pelchat
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rojova is a region in Norther Syria where people are trying to live what could be considered as one of the most advanced form of democracy where women have the same rights as men and local assemblies are always co-chaired by a man and a woman. Furthermore, It is a pluralistic society where people from different religions and background coexist in a peaceful manner. These are the people Western countries and Turkey called terrorists. Well, let me tell you: I would rather live with that kind of "t ...more
Sam Johnson
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Rojava Revolution might be the single bright spot in authentic, emancipatory politics since Catalonia in the 1930s. While the West is struggling to revive its social democratic platforms the Kurds of northern Syria have pursued libertarian socialist, ecologically minded, radical feminist policies under siege conditions. In reading "Revolution in Rojava" I felt it was important to tease out the lessons of their revolution and where else they may apply. Context remains key to understanding Roj ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd heard very little about Rojava prior to this book. It's just not something you hear about in what we keep being told is a struggle between "The West" and Daesh/"ISIS". But right in the middle of a place torn apart by Western imperialism and domestic forces of reaction, there's a wonderful and radically new experiment in society forming on its own terms in Syrian Kurdistan: a stateless, decentralized, diverse society that views political liberation and female liberation as necessarily intertw ...more
Ryan Mishap
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Few people are aware of what is happening in this region, which is a shame. Who would have thought we could look to war-ravaged Syria for an example of people organizing a society based on citizen participation, gender equality, and anti-state principles?

This is a thorough, outstanding look at the region, its history and current struggles, and the people attempting to build a just society in the face of the Syrian regime, Islamic State, Turkey's anti-Kurdish attitudes and actions, and an econom
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. One of the best / most inspiring non-fiction books I've read in a long time. They could have so easily phoned it in, since it's pretty much the only book (at least the only book I could find) that goes into this level of detail about the Rojava revolution, and yet they totally went all out in documenting 15 different "dimensions" of the revolution. I highly recommend for anyone, especially if you want to have your Western-media-induced stereotypes about social+political movements in the Mid ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent breakdown of the political and military situation that dispelled the narrative that has been allowed to grow particularly about the YPJ. Fantastically researched and objective in analysis this book is a must read for anyone interested in the Kurdish struggle against ISIS and their Caliphate amorous fellow travellers or the Syrian civil war in general.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive dispassionate overview.
Jacques Michel
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very rigorous starting point to understand the autonomous and democratic project developing in Nortern Syria (West Kurdistan). Highly recommend for anyone interested in the topic!
Ash Ponders
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Need to get up to speed on the syrian conflict? This will get you a good way there, with a solid dose of the underpinnings of the northern front.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An accessible and easy to follow guide into the history, values, struggles, celebrations, and way of life of Rojava.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is enlightening and informative, but it is heavily biased in favour of the then-Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, now the Autonomous Areas of North and East Syria, known commonly as Rojava in Kurmanji. Bias is to be expected in any study, but here it goes a little beyond the expected and somewhat prejudices the actual arguments of the book.

This remains one of the few studies to be based on actual fieldwork conducted in Syria, by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, and prov
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who wants to know what Rojava is all about needs to read this book. The book is based on the authors visits to Rojava and their extensive research of all aspects of the new society which was then emerging even as the Islamic State was beaten back by the determination of of Kurdish fighters and their allies. As the introduction makes clear the Kurds have long been victims of persecution in their own land which has been stolen, plundered and divided by empires and despots for centuries. Kur ...more
Pete Dolack
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Surrounded on all sides by hostile forces intent on destroying them, in a part of the world that Western pundits claim can only be ruled by dictators, the Kurds of Syria are intent on creating a society more democratic than any found in North America or Europe. This is not simply a matter of creating institutions of direct and communal, as opposed to representative, democracy but, most importantly, democratizing the economy. In the words of the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, “In self ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall a fascinating look at a region undergoing a bonafide revolution, and one based not on seize-the-means statism but rather on council-led democratic confederalism/autonomy. It's worth the read for that story alone, especially given how little of this news reaches Westerners in traditional media.

It gets somewhat repetitive in its extremely thorough breakdown of every part of Rojavan society, from basic political structure to security, education, economy, etc. The theme is generally the same
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is not about philosophy. It is a biased description of reality. It is neither a justification or an argument. It is simply a description.

It is important that you know about it. I try to hold hope in my heart for Rojava. I also worry.

*Revolution in Rojava* is a description of the founding of Rojava and the sociopolitical activity in the region that challenges and maintains it as an entity. Rojava is a democratic confederacy made of independent cantons of villages and cities in northern
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
An excellent summary of the PPK's Democratic Federalist state of Rojava as it stood circa 2016. Knapp and company, while scholars of various disciplines, tend to paint a highly positive assessment of the political and cultural situation in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. This work is probably best assessed in contrast to Thomas Schmidinger's work; one gets the sense that Schmidinger's broadly comprehensive scholarship of the various factions in Syria (many of them hostile ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: references
I cannot stress how fascinating and excellent this book is. Of course take everything with a grain of salt,since I am sure the excitement and optimism of the authors does give us a rosier picture of Democratic Autonomy than it is in reality. However I can understand the optimism and hope because this political philosophy has so much potential. This book is well written and is accessible. I highly recommend this book.
Timotej Turk Dermastia
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great overview of the internationally overlooked plight of the Syrian Kurds to establish a just and democratic society of all ethnicities living in the northern part of Syria amidst war, embargo, persecusion and lack of international support for this amazing and progressive project. The revolution has given power to women, minorities and ecological topics while ISIS and Turkish rockets were storming their towns and villages. A must read for every savvy internationalist and leftist
Gayla Bassham
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted this to be more of a narrative of the Kurds, the Kurdish women in particular. Instead it is half-manifesto, half-gushing hagiography. It's impossible to believe that this account of the Kurdish movement isn't idealized; the zeal of the authors can be grating. And yet, it remains truly heart-breaking to read this 2015 book in 2019, knowing what comes after. ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Revolution lives in Rojava. This book is a must read for anyone interested in left wing politics and practical application of political theory. An honest and beautifully detailed description of the situation in the region, and their new type of democracy.
James Marshall
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very clear and easy to read, especially impressive since this is such a complicated and current topic. The book is from 2016, so I'd love to see an updated version that includes developments since then (since the revolution is still in full swing). ...more
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Support Rojava : Afrin 1 4 Jan 26, 2018 08:38PM  

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