Commoning the Komal: The Toronto Kurdish Community Centre

Elif Genc


Within the walls of this two-story storefront, a distinct alternative practice of radical politics and life is taking place. In fact, what would appear to be an extension of the Kurdish social movement, as it is understood, is being practiced against a backdrop of the refugee experience within the metropolitan city limits of Toronto. This practice of what is arguably feminist anarchism has become known in the recent years by the title  “Democratic Confederalism” (Öcalan 2011). Democratic Confederalism in its feminist anarchist framework reflects our understanding of what is known within the Marxist tradition today  as “the commons” (Federici & Linebaugh 2018). This paper seeks to show that the Kurdish Community Centre has, over nearly three decades, established for its members within Toronto a space that attempts to practice a radical feminist politics mirroring our understanding of “the commons”. However, similar to the dilemma of most leftist social movements, struggles with the divide between theory and praxis across space and time mark the centre’s main concerns. Exclusive to the diasporic experince, the Kurdish refugees are faced with trying to navigate their anti-state Kurdish revolutionary struggle within a nation that has provided them refuge. This paper will explore what is understood as “komal” (community) and how have these community centres come to represent the Kurdish social movement in diaspora spaces through refugee lived experiences—particularly the Kurdish woman’s. 

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