Women in Genocidal Captivity

Learn more about Dr. Jinks here.

Dr. Becky Jinks has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship, for a two-year project focusing on the experiences of two groups of women who were subjected to ‘genocidal captivity’. In 1915, during the Armenian genocide, thousands of women were ‘absorbed’ into Turkish, Kurdish and Arab households. Afterwards, some escaped or were rescued by aid organisations, and rejoined the Armenian community. Almost a century later in 2014, in neighbouring Iraq, thousands of Yezidi women were abducted by ISIS and held in sexual slavery. Some managed to escape, helped by rescue networks, and joined other Yezidi survivors in refugee camps. Reintegration was a fraught and often exclusionary process. With taboos over sexual and religious purity broken, those who returned from captivity were sometimes viewed as unable to truly return. The women’s stories remained largely untold and unheard: instead they were converted into symbols of a martyred, victimised community, and a site for humanitarian intervention. Often, wittingly or unwittingly, NGOs reproduce these exclusionary frameworks, in both fundraising materials and aid practices. Scholarship, too, has struggled to depict the experience of such violence.

 Dr. Jinks will be working with three charity partners and the wonderful photojournalist (and Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman winner) Emilienne Malfatto to explore these women’s experiences of captivity and reintegration, to think about how academics, NGOs, and artists can write and visualise these stories differently, and to inform current NGO practices of representation. This will involve a trip to Iraq to interview Yezidi women survivors, workshops with NGOs and with other historians thinking about how to ‘write violence’, and an exhibition at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London – as well as writing a book on ‘genocidal captivity’.