After Ten Years of Developing the Science of Women: My Feelings about Jineolojî

Jinwar Women’s Village

JINWAR Free Women's Village is an ecological women's village in the heart of Rojava.

This article by Zîlan Diyar of the Jineolojî Committee Europe was first published in the January/February 2022 edition of the Kurdistan Report, on 2 January 2022.

Jineolojî, which we define as the science of women, life, society and as meaning, has been trying to intervene in the field of social sciences for more than a decade. In this period, it challenged the mentality that was created by the capitalist modernity and which is the center of attention and contradictions. All those who were interested in and concerned with Jineolojî in this period of time – myself included – have, in my opinion, gained the power to define life, have learned to find in themselves what was sought in the distance, and “feel”, when life is considered as a whole, how everything now makes sense.

I do not see any problem in using the term “feeling”, because Jineolojî also challenges science which is largely devoid of feeling in terms of content. Just this term, which exceeds the limits of the mental models given to us and opens a door to a new science, fits to what I want to communicate. However, only “feeling” is not enough. The Jineolojî has supported the claim to define seeing, knowing, meaning, searching and analyzing adapted to life as a science of its own. In this text I will try to explain which way the Jineolojî has travelled in the course of about ten years to come closer to the claim of becoming a separate branch of science.

We can attribute the distance that Jineolojî has traveled – as in any other science – to the effort to establish itself conceptually, theoretically and institutionally. First and foremost, as in any social science, it was a matter of developing a scientific understanding of basic factors such as existence, knowledge and methods. It was based on the fact that the role of women and their knowledge had almost no place in the social sciences or that this place was very distorted, which only deepened the social problems. In a way, she dared to shout a truth that in the past many researchers who had tried to analyze the system had concealed. Thus, we knew where to place the missing pieces of the puzzle in our hands.

The river that finds its own bed

Jineolojî has challenged the informative entities of the system, proceeded with contradictions, objections and questions, and revealed the jinergy in every individual and area with which it came into contact. Jineolojî has aimed to take steps that satisfy the claim of being a science in the service of society and not of domination. Seeing that the fragmented approach to the social sciences of women, society, and nature easily led to exploitation by governments, it strove from the beginning to be established as a science with society for the needs of society.

How she did it? She held the discussion “What kind of social science will Jineolojî be?” not in academies, where the problems of society are always considered from a distance, but with society. First, she discussed with the pioneers of her own revolution, or, in other words, the pioneers who based the women’s revolution on such a science. Jineolojî did not emerge from a group that held abstract discussions about freedom.This community tried to reflect the principles of a free life that it had developed itself through the relations between men and women, the understanding of administration, nature and the way it dealt with every living being in it. It consisted of people who cut their ties to the existing system and felt freedom at that moment. Most importantly, it was a community based on creating freedom immediately.

It was this group, especially the free women’s academies in the mountains of Kurdistan and the building force of the Kurdish revolution, that set the basic building blocks of an alternative life in many different fields such as economy, culture, self-defense, justice and politics. Only the community that promised people a future and risked their lives for it could feel how a science should be in the service of society, and only such a structure could create that science.

Thus, a conference in the mountains of Kurdistan created a framework for Jineolojî’s critique of the social sciences, their methods and practices. With the motivation generated by this framework, Jineolojî developed in a different form in all fields. This was precisely the result that was consistent with the claim of being a social science. Therefore, we compare Jineolojî with the river that finds its own bed.

The first concrete studies

Let us now take a look at how this river has created its place in different geographical areas, breaking through the earth and seeping into the depths.

The first concrete studies on the science of women began in Rojava and undoubtedly produced the most results there. Since women were the founding force of the revolution in the fields of self-defense, politics, economy, culture, justice and many more, the quickly practiced social conventions of women, the institutionalizations formed according to the needs of women (Mala Jin, Jinwar, women’s academies and cooperatives …) formed the basis for the development of Jineolojî. This promoted the process of education in these institutionalizations and at the same time fed on it.

Seminars and trainings of Jineolojî at hundreds of academies in Rojava have played an important role in changing the mindset of the protective and founding forces of the revolution. In this way, she created her own institutionalizations. Jineolojî research centers established in Efrîn on August 16, 2017 (no longer operational due to the occupation), in Dêrik on September 22, 2017, in Minbic on January 2, 2018, in Kobanê within the borders of the Euphrates region on March 6, 2018, in Hesekê on January 8, 2019, on 25. November 2020 in Tabqa, on January 9, 2021 in the camp for people from Efrîn whose land is occupied, and in Aleppo on April 4, 2021. These are very important institutions that ensure the intimate relationship of Jineolojî with society. Female employees of these institutions try to fill the knowledge pool of Jineolojî in economics, demography, history, mythology, ethics, aesthetics, and so on. They research their own societies and their history and do so beyond the boundaries of state and patriarchy.

Sometimes they work in partnership with a woman healer, sometimes with a dengbej, sometimes with academics. The sociological analyses carried out by each center on the body are also considered as fundamental studies to get to the source of social problems. Let us also mention that the interest in Jineolojî is not limited to the regions where Kurds live. In cities such as Minbic, Tabqa and Raqqa, which were liberated from IS, the number of Arab women who volunteer for Jineolojî studies cannot be underestimated. In this way, the chance to access the sources (Arabic books and oral histories) where we can find information stored in the Middle Eastern countries increases considerably.

One of the most fundamental studies of Jineolojî in Rojava is her sociological research to solve social problems. For example, during the revolution in Rojava, sociological research has served to establish that women were the constructive force in Rojava.

The work, which deals with the connection of the present conditions with the first women’s revolution, and a people stuck between being refugees and war, and in a process of reconstruction, is completed. It is currently being prepared for publication in Kurdish.

One of the most promising works of Jineolojî has been the construction of Jinwar Women’s Village, which WJAR (Free Women’s Foundation in Rojava) launched as a joint project with WJAS (Free Women’s Foundation in Syria) and Kongreya Star (Women’s Movement in North Syria) in 2017.

Jinwar, where the construction of the houses ended on November 25, 2018, is now a living space that has a capacity, through the healing and health center “Şîfa Jin“, to care for the health problems of women along with those in the surrounding villages. The village has a trilingual school for students, a bakery and it has developed agriculture and animal husbandry. Jinwar is, so to speak, a village where Jineolojî is being practiced.

The Faculty of Jineolojî, which was opened at the University of Rojava during the 2017/2018 academic year, is one of the most important institutions of Jineolojî. The Faculty has been trying to restructure itself since 2021. There is a detailed preparation on many issues from curriculum to scoring system or an advisory board of the faculty. Various institutions that cooperate with the faculty are also involved in this process. In addition to the Emden University in Germany, efforts are being made to cooperate with various schools that have already been able to establish an alternative educational system in Latin America.

The Andrea Wolf Institute

The Andrea Wolf Institute (founded in May 2017) is another institution where women from different regions of the world work together. With its educational circles, research groups and artistic projects, Jineolojî is becoming an important resource that all women of the world will encounter. The studies carried out in the institute have already turned into a concrete product.

The leaflets entitled “Revolutionary Education and the Killing of Man,” published in different languages, and the book “Mujer, Vida, Libertad,” which includes the experiences of the Kurdish women’s liberation movement, are also products of a group of international women who carry out various works at the Institute. Published in Catalan, the book has been translated into Italian and met its readers at the end of 2021. Its second volume (the first is being prepared for the second edition) is in progress. The basic idea for the book “We know what we want” [„Wir wissen was wir wollen“], which has received great attention in Germany, also came about through discussions within the Institute. By intensifying the work of those who conducted not only external public education, but also community education and Jineolojî studies, products such as brochures and books were created. Ethical-aesthetic (in four languages) and politicization of emotions (in five languages) are among them. This decade also saw the publication of “Lecture Notes” describing all the theoretical and practical issues of Jineolojî, and the title “Democratic Modernity and Feminism”. In addition to the Jineological promotional brochures published in Europe in seven languages, some of the discussions in 21 different Jineolojî camps in Latin America and European countries have been delivered as brochures to the relevant circles. In this context, two Catalan and two German brochures have been published. A special selection from Jineological journals appeared in English, Arabic and Soranî. The Journal of Jineolojî, published every three months, is in its fifth year. Currently, issue 23 is being prepared.

What I am trying to say is that based on the education of social sciences, Jineolojî has formed a large complex in this short span of ten years.

The books and pamphlets mentioned above are actually the products of experiences that are thus transmitted to the future generation and recorded in intellectual production, perpetuating the struggle for women’s existence and freedom. This intellectual production process, starting from its own needs, can connect the information network. No experience and production is separated from the other field, all concrete results are collected in the pool of Jineolojî and even the production of one field motivates and nourishes another field. In other words, the flow does not originate from a need fixed at the top, but from the contact with the progress of the local towards universality. This is what you need to understand from the practice of Jineolojî.

Undoubtedly, there are many more practical results from the last ten years. The truth that is revealed is much more important to me. In this respect, the emotion I expressed at the beginning is significant. The transformation that every woman who engages in Jineolojî experiences is the most lasting result for me. To recognize the mental pitfalls that the male-dominated system lays for women, to embrace the ethical-aesthetic values that come through female connectedness, to gain consciousness to define one’s existence, to gain aspiration to overcome the knotted social problems, to realize one’s own potential, that is, to feel the jinergy, to gain strength in the struggle against the system – these feelings have appeared in every woman who got acquainted with Jineolojî and participated in the studies carried out on the basis of jineological thinking and living. This is the first position that we won against the way of thinking that tries to separate the thoughts, knowledge, feelings and intuition of women. Being able to arouse emotions while producing thoughts and relying on our intuition while pursuing knowledge.

The practice achieved during this time is very valuable. It is a necessity to make these values visible and to understand these results as a prerequisite for a science and as the beginning of a long march. It is only with such scientific output that it will be possible to change the information that today defines human memory.

Has Jineolojî been able to adequately analyze all social contradictions, or can it form a sufficient basis for the ideological and revolutionary rise of those who fight against the system? Every moment we deal with this question, encountering people full of contradictions, different cultures, identities, movements and minds full of insidious positivism, we ask ourselves this question. These encounters make us feel that we are at the beginning of the road. But we see contradictions and question marks as the beginning of transformation. We transform ourselves as we develop our conversion aspirations. We are learning as we seek to teach. We create our own identity as we pursue women’s truth. We don’t mind the long road to get there.

The efforts of women involved in Jineological studies in Europe to revive their own mythologies; following the stories of women who resisted against fascism; the stories that elderly people tell children in the Jineological Research Center in Dêrik; the child of a mute Ezidi mother who learned to speak after she started living in Jinwar – having had all these promising experiences at the beginning of this long road instills in us the courage, hope and desire to go the rest of the way as well.