Kurdish Spring Soundtrack

Rojava solidarity sticker. Berlin, February 2015.

The Arab Spring seems like a century ago. Starting in late 2010, there was every reason to believe that it would make the Middle East synonymous with social democracy. With the exception of its most fearful critics, no one could have predicted that it would dissolve into the bloodbath currently engulfing Syria and its neighbors.

So brutal has the situation become that Syria’s civil war rivals the harshest of post- Cold War conflicts for its cruelty. Russia’s two wars in Chechnya seem tame in comparison.

Nothing good has come of it, except, perhaps, the degree to which the conflict has highlighted the plight of the Kurds, and their experiment in Rojava, with anarchist self-rule. Not since the heyday of the kibbutz movement in the early twentieth century has anarchism assumed such significant form in the region.

Though it’s hard to imagine that Rojava will endure – the Kurdish alliance with the US bodes especially negatively, in this regard – its political significance should not go unnoticed either. Rojava’s innovation is part and parcel of the original spirit of the Arab Spring, and the avant-garde impulses it inspires in Middle Easterners.

Less noticed are the cultural moments that define the Kurdish Spring. In particular, local music. Ranging from political hip-hop to patriotic sing-alongs, there’s a lot to listen to. Some of it fits in well with regional takes on the American genre, already well-known amongst world music cognoscenti. Other moments feel a lot more traditional, in a stereotypically Folkways sort of way.

Souciant put together a five song playlist, featuring stuff we think is cool. From gangsta rap, to Vivaldi, it’s all there.


1. Partizan Rapper


2. Bahoz Ciya


3. YPG Partisan Song


4. The Four Seasons


5. Şerîf Omerî


Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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