Institut für Sozialanthropologie



Isabel Käser is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Social Anthropology, currently working on her new project titled “Leaving the movement: Kurdish dissidents and the remaking of post-revolutionary subjectivities in the European diaspora”. Based on ethnographic research with former fighters who left Kurdish armed groups, this project analyses processes of disentanglement, demilitarisation, and migration from the Middle East to Europe. Isabel is also the Principal Investigator of a collaborative project between the London School of Economics and the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr titled “The Kurdistan Region of Iraq Post-ISIS: Youth, Art and Gender”, for which her and her team are looking into the intersections of feminist art and youth activism in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Isabel gained her PhD at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS in London and her first book "The Kurdish Women's Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities" has been published by Cambridge University Press (2021). The book is a transnational feminist ethnography centering the lived realities and everyday struggles of the militant women of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), looking at processes of political, social and military mobilizations amidst conflict and war. 

Isabel has also worked in journalism and diplomacy, most recently as the Project Lead of “Art in Peace Mediation” a research project of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), looking at the role of art and artists in formal mediation processes. She has taught BA and MA courses on gender, sexuality, conflict, and art in relation to the Middle East at SOAS, the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr and the University of Bern.

Drawing on transnational and post-colonial feminist theory, Isabel’s work is situated at the intersections of feminist international relations and critical military studies. She is interested in gendered and embodied processes of militancy, (de)militarisation and political mobilisation, with a focus on the Middle East, particularly the Kurdish geographies and its diasporas. Her work also addresses the role of artistic knowledge production and youth activism in the “post”-ISIS Middle East. Isabel has conducted extensive research with the activists, politicians, and armed militant of the PKK and is an expert on war, gender and feminist mobilisations more broadly. 

gender, sexuality, war, militarism, feminism, nationalism, art and youth activism, Middle East, feminist international relations, critical military studies, post-colonial and transnational feminism

Al-Ali, Nadje, and Isabel Käser. 2022. “Beyond Feminism? Jineolojî and the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement.” Politics & Gender 18 (1): 212–243.

Käser, Isabel, and Jolyon Mitchell. 2022. “Peacebuilding, Religion and the Arts”, in Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Peace, edited by Jolyon Mitchell, Suzanna Millar, Francesca Pro & Martyn Percy. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell (in production).

Käser, Isabel. 2021. The Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement: Gender, Body Politics and Militant Femininities. Cambridge University Press.

Käser, Isabel. 2021. “A Struggle within a Struggle: The History of the Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement”, in The Cambridge History of the Kurds, edited by Hamit Bozarslan, Cengiz Gunes & Veli Yadirgi, pp. 893-919.

Käser, Isabel. 2019. “’Mountain Life is Difficult but Beautiful!’ The Gendered Process of Becoming ‘Free’ in the PKK Guerrilla”, in Kurds in Turkey: Ethnographies of Heterogenous Experiences, edited by Adnan Çelik & Lucie Drechslova. Lenham: Lexington Books, pp. 11-30.

Käser, Isabel. 2017. “Of Warring Women: The Kurdish Freedom Movement’s Fight for Women’s Liberation” (It. ‘Il Vangelo Feminista Di Öcalan, Arma Totale Della Causa Curda’). Limes, Il Mito Curdo (7): pp. 109–114.