Current Research

Dr Baris’ current research focuses on experiments of council democracy launched by Kurdish movements in Turkey and Syria, and two indigenous movements, the Zapatistas and the town of Cheran, in Mexico. Despite important differences, according to Dr Baris, what appears to be common to these movements is that they invoke ancestral/communal forms of sovereignty but make no claim to independence. On the contrary, they seek to reconcile their aspirations with the Turkish, Syrian and Mexican constitutions. Nevertheless, the councils and assemblies set up by these movements appear to claim ultimate authority over public affairs within territories that constitute residential communities such as villages, neighbourhoods, towns and cities. Therefore, autonomy based on councils appears to be at odds with the principles of parliamentary sovereignty.

Scholars have defined these experiments as stateless democracy and/or radical democracy. In this project, Dr Baris considers further aspects of the politics of these movements: where did these models of autonomy come from? Do they introduce novel forms of government or are they projections of ancient and ancestral forms of self-rule? What implications do these models have with regard to autonomy and sovereignty? How can we reconcile them with the constitutions of the nation-states that host these movements? What appear to be their strengths and weaknesses in practice?

Council democracy in these cases is conceived as a form of government alternative to representative democracy: citizens participate in political decision-making processes directly via convening in local councils and assemblies. Dr Baris describes these experiments as council autonomy and aims to compare them with one another as well as with the council system outlined theoretically by Hannah Arendt and her predecessors, including Jewish experiments of anarchist communities, the kibbutzim, as well as the project of Mediterranean Federated States developed by Judah Leon Magnes. Dr Baris will also dwell on the strengths and limitations of council democracy in theory and in practice and will use case studies to develop and contribute to political theory.


Dr Baris was born in 1978. He studied law for his undergraduate degree at Başkent University in Ankara, Turkey, and sociology for his graduate degree at Master of Arts in Inter-Asia NGO Studies (MAINS) at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul, South Korea. He studied constitutional law and political theory as a postgraduate scholar at Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, UK. He obtained his PhD in 2018. He is currently the Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at CISRUL, the University Aberdeen. Dr Baris practiced law as a private attorney in Istanbul, Turkey, for about 8 years between 2004 and 2019, with a focus on human rights law. He also worked at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as a legislative consultant for a short period before taking up his current post. Dr Baris has been a member of Board of Directors at the prestigious non-governmental organization Toplum ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Vakfı (Foundation for Society and Legal Studies) in Istanbul since late 2018.


The Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship 2019-2022.

Best article award in Kurdish political studies, first prize, University of Central Florida. For following article: A.W. Hamelink and H. Baris. (2014). “Dengbêjs on borderlands: borders and the state as seen through the eyes of Kurdish singer-poets.” Kurdish Studies Journal 2/1: 34-60.

Publications in English

Baris, Hanifi. 2020. The Kurdish Model of Political Community: A Vision of National Liberation Defiant of the Nation-State. Lanham: Lexington Books (coming soon)

Baris, Hanifi. 2020. “Sovereignty, autonomy and citizenship in the Kurdish model of political community”; in Engaging Authority Citizenship and Political Community, edited by Trevor Stack and Rose Luminiello. London: Rowman & Littlefield (coming soon)

Baris, Hanifi. 2016. “The Kurds: “A history of deliberate and reactive state-lessness””; in Conflict, Insecurity and Mobility, edited by Ibrahim Sirkeci, Jeffrey H. Cohen, Pinar Yazgan; pp. 89-101. London: Transnational Press

Hamelink, Wendy and Baris, Hanifi. 2015. “Kurdish music can no longer be erased from our ears. Musical memories of Armenians from Sason”; Published in Turkish in: Hrant Dink Foundation Conference Proceedings. Istanbul: Hrant Dink Foundation

Hamelink, Wendy and Baris, Hanifi. 2014. “Dengbêjs on borderlands: Borders and the state as seen through the eyes of Kurdish singer-poets”; in Kurdish Studies Journal, Vol. 2 No: 1; pp. 34-60. London: Transnational Press

Publications in Turkish And Kurdish

Hamelink, A.W. and H. Baris. (2015). “Kürt müziği artık kulağımızdan silinmiyor. Sasun Ermenilerin müzikal hafızası. ”; in Müslümanlaştırılmış Ermeniler. Istanbul: Hrant Dink Vakfı.

Hamelink, A.W. and H. Baris. (2020). “Kürt Halk Ozanları Dengbêjlerin Gözünden Sınırlar ve Devlet”; in İsmail Beşikci Vakfı Kürt Çalışmaları Bahar Akademisi-1, edited by Güllistan Yarkın, pp. 51-88. Istanbul: İsmail Beşikci Vakfı

Hamelink, A.W. and H. Baris. (2014). “Dengbêj di Sinoran de: Sinor û Dewlet Bi Nêrîna Kilambêjên Kurd.” wer. Şehmuz Kurt û Ziyaddin Yıldırımçakar. Wêjê û  Rexne, Vol. 3 (2014): 173–200.

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