The Veiled Periphery

The Veiled Periphery: Rural Kurdish women in Turkey and the taboo of sexuality

Feyza Burak Adli



Sexuality is the most salient taboo informing many practices in Cibo, a Kurdish village located in Erzurum, Turkey. In this article, I explore the manifestations, permutations, and ramifications of sexual shame through gendered practices. My analysis manifests the complex matrices of the deployment of the practices. That is, the modesty code based on sexual shame emerges at once as an index of traditional, ethnic (Turkish vs. Kurdish) and sectarian (Sunni vs. Alevi) identity, a religious observance, an instrument to attain honor and status, an assertion of morality and virtue, and lastly as resistance to Turkish hegemony and the perceived urban objectification of women. I explore the nuanced ways in which rural Kurdish women assert agency and resistance and in doing so I complicate stereotypic images of “subjugated” rural Kurdish women in Turkey. True to a feminist tradition, I locate the expressed problems of these women not in an abstract category of patriarchy, but in the intersectionality of class, ethnicity, state, and discursive Islamic tradition.

Keywords: modesty code, sexual shame, rural Kurdish women

Download PDF – Adli 2012


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