Esengül is the co-founder of the Aramızda Association for Gender Research – a solidarity academy established by female scholars to promote gender studies and gender equality. Her second main area of work has been on memory politics through cultural production related to state violence. In 2020, Esengül was the coordinator of the project 'Dersim 1937-38, Mapping the Sites of Massacres and Mass Graves in Turkey,' supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. The project aimed to document one of the bloodiest massacres of 20th-century Turkey. She also worked for the Haklara Destek/Support to Rights program of the Truth Justice Memory Center. Academically, she mainly works on gender studies and memory politics related to state violence through cultural and communication studies. As an activist, she is committed to academic freedom and critical knowledge production in Turkey.
Esengül completed her PhD at Marmara University in 2009 with a dissertation on the women's movement in Turkey. From 2012 to 2017, she was an assistant professor at Çukurova University at the Faculty of Communication. In 2017, Esengül, like many of her colleagues, fell victim to an emergency decree that banned her from state employment because she signed the peace petition against inhuman violence conducted by the Turkish State in the Kurdish region.
At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Esengül is one of our Yehudit and Yehuda Elkana fellows.