The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Susan Benson-Sokmen

PhD Program


Major and Minor Fields:

Minor 1-Gender,
Minor 2-Transnationalism


Professor Jens Hanssen and Professor Shahrzad Mojab (co-supervisors)

Dissertation Title:

"Refusing to Stay Put: The Revolutionary Legacies of Kurdish Feminism"

Description of Dissertation:

Since the summer of 2011 I have been conducting ethnographic research in the city of Doğubeyazıt, a predominantly Kurdish town in Eastern Turkey. I use oral history methods (listening to people as their reflect on their own culture and history) in order to understand how Kurdish women and men use the history of Kurdish women participating in armed struggle in the “mountains” to challenge and change gender relations at “home.” I am hoping to show that the “memory” of armed struggle is a productive legacy for Kurds who are using it to “bring democracy home”-whether that home be the European Union, “Kurdistan,” the Turkish state or the streets and houses of Turkey’s “4th most Kurdish city”

Awards and Scholarships:

SSHRC-CGS Doctoral Scholarship 2009-2012
SSHRC-Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master’s Scholarship 2008-2009


“Sharing Trauma in the “Zone of Genocide”: Armenian and Kurdish Counter-Memories of State Violence.” AGHS, University of Toronto, February 3-5, 2011.

“Beyond the Nation: Celebrating the Kurdish ‘Counter-Diaspora’ in the Streets of Toronto.” MESA (Middle Eastern Studies Association) 44th Annual Conference, San Diego, California, November 18-21, 2010.

“Sounds of Silence: Kurds in the Kemalist City.” MESA 43rd Annual Conference, Boston, Mass., November 21-24 Boston

Academic Service:

Organizing Committee- “Crossing Boundaries: Reading North Africa and the Middle East in Comparative Perspective.”  Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations Working Group, 2010-2011
Organizing Committee- “Crossing Boundaries: Resituating North African and Middle Eastern Studies.” Jackman Humanities Institute Working Group, 2009–2010.


  • MA, Collaborative Program Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto
  • BA, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto