Political Violence in Syria: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Abstr. due: 09.04.2018
Dates: 14.09.18 — 15.09.18
Organizing comittee e-mail: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizers: Utrecht University
In 2011, the uprising in Syria rapidly escalated into a large-scale, complex, multi-dimensional civil war. As the violence became more extensive and intensive, within six years, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, the economic infrastructure and civic life devastated, Syrian territory fragmented, with massive internal and external displacement. Local activists, civil society members, and ordinary citizens have engaged in various practices to make public the violence, varying from uploading videos, social media discussions, to more organized forms of activism like creating NGOs and carefully documenting the events. Since 2011 and in particular with the rise of ISIS, academics, policy makers, and the global media have taken keen interest in the spectacle of violence in Syria.
The conflict in Syria has been framed in different ways: insurgency and counterinsurgency, sectarian and ethnic civil war, regional proxy war, and international terrorism. In much of these frameworks, the dynamic of the violence itself has either been overexposed as particularly atrocious, or under-examined as an epiphenomenon. This workshop challenges both the notion that the recent violence is an entirely novel development in Syria, and the assumption that violence is a perennial phenomenon in Syria. It rather contextualizes violence by placing it in long-standing histories and practices that predate this civil war. The current war appears to have put Syria in a state of exception, where the state is fighting to maintain its sovereignty and stop the country’s disintegration. The violence has doubtlessly taken unprecedented numeric dimensions, but the structural conditions for the emergence of this violence predate the war.
This workshop is intended to look at the long standing tradition of political violence in postcolonial Syria and historicize the recent developments. It aims to bring together approaches that include pre-existing structural conditions as well as contemporary empirical studies that examine the causes, courses, and consequences of such large-scale violence in present-day Syria.
We welcome papers that focus on, but are not limited to, the following themes:
- Forms and repertoires of violence;
- History and politics of the Syrian security forces;
- Theorizing ideology, ethnicity, sectarianism, paramilitarism;
- Case studies of violence: regions, cities, neighborhoods, villages, tribes, families;
- Empirical studies of political economy, demography, and geography;
- Forced displacement, internal and external;
- Perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and others.