Voices That Matter: Kurdish Women at the Limits of Representation in Contemporary Turkey (Paperback)

Voices That Matter: Kurdish Women at the Limits of Representation in Contemporary Turkey By Marlene Schäfers Cover Image

Voices That Matter: Kurdish Women at the Limits of Representation in Contemporary Turkey (Paperback)


A fine-grained ethnography exploring the sociopolitical power of Kurdish women’s voices in contemporary Turkey.

“Raise your voice!” and “Speak up!” are familiar refrains that assume, all too easily, that gaining voice will lead to empowerment, healing, and inclusion for marginalized subjects. Marlene Schäfers’s Voices That Matter reveals where such assumptions fall short, demonstrating that “raising one’s voice” is no straightforward path to emancipation but fraught with anxieties, dilemmas, and contradictions. In its attention to the voice as form, this book examines not only what voices say but also how they do so, focusing on Kurdish contexts where oral genres have a long, rich legacy. Examining the social labor that voices carry out as they sound, speak, and resonate, Schäfers shows that where new vocal practices arise, they produce new selves and practices of social relations. In Turkey, recent decades have seen Kurdish voices gain increasing moral and political value as metaphors of representation and resistance. Women’s voices, in particular, are understood as potent means to withstand patriarchal restrictions and political oppression. By ethnographically tracing the transformations in how Kurdish women relate to and employ their voices as a result of these shifts, Schäfers illustrates how contemporary politics foster not only new hopes and desires but also create novel vulnerabilities as they valorize, elicit, and discipline voice in the name of empowerment and liberation.

Marlene Schäfers is assistant professor in cultural anthropology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226823058
ISBN-10: 0226823059
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: December 23rd, 2022
Pages: 240
“A most welcome contribution to a steadily developing area of research. Written with great clarity and precision, Voices That Matter will be an instant addition to reading lists on gender in the Middle East, ethnography, sociolinguistics, and ethnomusicology.”
— Christine Robins, University of Exeter

Voices That Matter offers an invaluable contribution to anthropological scholarship on voice and to conversations in related fields of music, media, and sound studies. It is also powerfully written, and its arguments take shape in carefully composed and evocative ethnographic writing. This truly is accomplished and compelling work.”
— Daniel Fisher, University of California, Berkeley