The Kurdish resistance movement, one often hears in Kurdistan, Turkey, and beyond, has brought momentous change to a deeply patriarchal society and in this way paved the way for the empowerment of Kurdish women. Instead of discussing whether such empowerment has “actually” materialized, this article seeks to investigate what moral expectations, normative standards, and gendered subjectivities this narrative generates. The Kurdish case reveals how narratives of empowerment form a crucial part of the moral and gendered bargains that sustain and legitimate resistance movements. As they tie personal lives to political projects of resistance and liberation through notions like sacrifice, gift, and debt, such narratives shape political belonging and render critique a perilous undertaking. Tracing how Kurdish women seek to reconcile the dilemmas that arise as a result, the article reflects on the ways in which the political comes to be refracted in intimate realms of kinship and family. It contends that familial and personal relationships are crucial sites where expectations of political loyalty and allegiance take on shape and substance but are also negotiated and contested.

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