Communal Democracy

The Social Contract and Confederalism in Rojava


  • Michael Knapp Wageningen University
  • Joost Jongerden Wageningen University and Kyoto University



Rojava, Kurdistan, self-administration, democratic-confederalism, citizenship, assemblies, democracy


The article engages with the question of self-governance and its implications for the concept of citizenship in Rojava. A short overview of the historical development of the political idea of democratic autonomy applied in Rojava is given, a model that claims to be on the way to creating a stateless model of radical democracy whose realisation involves forms of emancipation of the citizen, from a subject of a state to an active participant. The social contract and the structure of self-governance in Rojava is examined from this perspective, and the conclusion drawn that citizenship, which has been seized by the statist model, is currently being reclaimed by the people in Rojava through democratic autonomy. The process of change of citizenship is being effected through participative action and self-education as acts of citizenship and aims to separate the idea of government from the idea of the state.

Author Biographies

Michael Knapp, Wageningen University

Michael Knapp is a PhD candidate at the Center for Place, Space and Society, Wageningen University.

Joost Jongerden, Wageningen University and Kyoto University

Joost Jongerden is assistant professor at the Center for Place, Space and Society, Wageningen University, and endowed professor at the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies at Kyoto University.


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How to Cite

Knapp, M., & Jongerden, J. (2016). Communal Democracy: The Social Contract and Confederalism in Rojava. Comparative Islamic Studies, 10(1), 87–109.