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To Make a World, Part III: Stateless Democracy


Continued from “The Make a World, Part II: The Art of Creating a State

Bepey tazetirîn polîn, Kurdekan
Ser be regazî ballinden
Awetane leser parey zard û drawî mejû
Koçer in û be karwanî sefer da enesreynawe

According to recent classification
Kurds belong to the species of birds
Look at them. Here they are! On the slowly disappearing and torn pages of history
They are the migrants that are only recognized over the long distances their caravans travel.
—Keyal Ahmed

In one of the many streets of Qamishli, full of seemingly unfinished, concrete, and tarnished buildings, I’m guided down a small flight of stairs into a basement. Printing house Algad is stacked with machinery, some of which is reminiscent of a time when they were used for political posters stenciled by hand. In the neon-lit space I meet Yahiyu Abdullah, who is busy feeding data into a five-meter-wide plotter through a small built-in computer. A young boy is sitting in front of it, trying to keep up with the feed of images emerging from the printer, cutting out the pictures from the large, plasticized printed surface.

I recognize some of the imagery from the posters and banners on the streets: young men and women, surrounded by logos of their militia, each of them portrayed before they joined their comrades on one of the many battlefields of the region. They look straight into the lens, occasionally smiling or with a raised fist, but more often with a defiant look, calm, determined in their controlled anger. I observe the feed of silent gazes merging into each other.

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