Just Warriors and Beautiful Souls: How the ideological performances of the Women’s Protection Units (the YPJ) are contributing to the process of collective identity within the female military units in Rojava from 2012 to the present
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This research aims to look beyond the military identity of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) that is publically portrayed in Western media. Through fieldwork conducted in Rojava (West Kurdistan) and using the framework of social performance theory, this paper examines the private performances within the all-female military units to see how the dramatisations of their values and beliefs contribute to the process of collective identity of the YPJ. The thesis argues that it is of central importance to study the conscious and unconscious messages conveyed during their private interactions in order to understand the multifaceted nature of their identity. The findings demonstrate that the YPJ’s public performances portray a narrow message of a militarised collective identity, but their private performances illuminate their ideology, their feminist foundations, and feminine nature, ultimately showing that the military is not limited to the masculine.