fall, 2012; virtual world
Perhaps because we were independent and young and womxn taking space within the somewhat established world of peace-building without a mediating body (ironically also called a middle-man) where certain laws had already been agreed upon by individuals or groups deeming themselves experts on the topic, we were rejected by donors when seeking funding. Most often, we were not even acknowledged or seen, especially given the alternative ways in which we desired to build solidarity and trust – particularly among women – in the name of peace.
The border set by structures operating within the confines of capitalistic systems, such as international donors often working with national governments for democracy and development, in the interests of those who already have power by virtue of capital, whether financial or social, did not wish to allow us to pass through. If we stood on either side of the Armenian-Turkish border, we – as bearers of either national citizenship – would also not be allowed to pass through (without a middle-man; we need to pass through Georgia if we are to cross by land). In the body of womxn, we are faced with borders both externally and internally imposed by patriarchal structures (such as governments, capitalism, donors, institutions, etc.) so as to deny us entry into the countries of our deepest desire.
But the urgency of the body that feels and knows deeply cannot be stopped even when interrupted by borders.
We did not need to ask for permission to transform our dream into reality. So we placed our dream into the virtual world and sought financial support from other independent people all over the world. And we said:
“The power of a woman telling her story lies in the transformation she lives when she hears the strength of her own voice and in the transformation we live when we are forced to shift our own ideas about women as faceless objects without a voice.
This project aims to establish a dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish women, to build solidarity among women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border and to develop an innovative approach to peace-building by collecting a number of interviews by and from women in both countries, which will then be turned into a performance and book for larger audiences. Some of the themes that will be explored include violence, poverty, family, and sexuality. One of our main goals is to make visible ordinary women’s lives living across the border, and to make their stories accessible to women in both countries, as well as to women in other countries with conflicted borders.
Because most policies and peace negotiations are usually implemented at higher levels of government where women’s voices are not often heard, this project will place the power to create peace into ordinary women’s hands. After all of the interviews are conducted (approximately 30 in total from both sides) a group of women from Armenia will travel to Turkey to meet and work with a group of women from Turkey for two weeks. The interviews that were conducted will be discussed and analyzed, workshops on effective peace-building and conflict resolution will be given, and a short film will be made documenting the process of the two groups coming together and preparing for a final performance at Madrasa Theater in Sirince, Turkey. Some time after this initial meeting, the group will also meet in Armenia to hold a second performance in Yerevan.
This project is a collaboration between volunteers from the Women’s Resource Center in Armenia and volunteers from AMARGI, a women’s collective in Turkey. We believe that women should take peace into their own hands and one way to begin is by sitting down with one another, across borders and across difference, to tell our stories.”
And thus goes the story of how we raised the funds necessary to meet. Beyond Borders.