Middle East

CfP BRISMES 2018: Southern-led Responses to Displacement in the MENA Region

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) annual conference, King’s College (London), June 25-28, 2018 (http://www.brismes.ac.uk/conference/). 

Panel Title: Southern-led Responses to Displacement in the MENA Region

Convenors: Dr Estella Carpi and Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Migration Research Unit (University College London)

The longstanding human displacement and forced migration flows in the Middle Eastern region have invited scholars and researchers to think in new ways about the collective and individual meanings of mobility, culture-oriented models of care, and the role of transnational and local networks in mobilising people, ideas and resources in the so-called global North and the global South.

Moreover, the eligibility criteria that crisis-stricken populations need to meet in order to access aid and care have been intertwining with their diversely motivated acts of moving or remaining, adding complexity to the predominant identity politics that tends to define needs, rights, and nature of claims within the MENA region.

To assist refugees – and vulnerable local populations at a later stage – an unprecedented number of emergency aid programmes have been implemented by Northern humanitarian agencies and global North donor states in the last decade. Such Northern responses have often ignored, complemented, supported, or stifled global South responses developed by formal and informal providers, and by the so-called ‘non-traditional’ donors.

It is therefore paramount to conduct critical explorations of multifaceted Southern-led responses, especially in light of UN and Northern states’ expanding interest in ‘localising’ responses to displacement. This panel looks for contributions analysing Southern-led responses to displacement in the MENA region, which can be heterogeneously configured in terms of formal humanitarian assistance, hospitality, community care, and other significant forms of social encounter.

This panel is particularly interested in – but not limited to – the following research scopes:

  • Empirical studies on the cultural, deontological, and linguistic differences of/within Southern models of care and assistance to refugees in the region


  • Secular and faith-based Southern forms of assistance and protection addressing regional refugees


  • Diaspora organisations and philanthropic approaches to needy community members or to other social groups


  • The role of Southern actors in local governance, such as challenging or supporting social and political order during crisis


  • Public and private Southern forms of assistance and solidarity to regional refugees


  • Studies on the politics of knowledge which emerges in researching Southern-led responses to displacement in Southern settings.


  • Southern responses to displacement emphasising gender and age related issues


Individuals who would like to contribute can send a 250-word abstract to:

Dr Estella Carpi, e.carpi@ucl.ac.uk (and cc Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh: e.fiddian-qasmiyeh@ucl.ac.uk) by November 29, 2017.

Categories: Middle East, North Africa, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Refugee Self-Reliance: Moving Beyond the Marketplace (October, 2017)


I have contributed to this research in brief with my study on Halba in northern Lebanon. You can download the whole paper here: https://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/publications/refugee-self-reliance-moving-beyond-the-marketplace.

The issue of how to promote refugee self-reliance has become of heightened importance as the number of forcibly displaced people in the world rises and budgets for refugees in long-term situations of displacement shrink. Self-reliance for refugees is commonly discussed as the ability for refugees to live independently from humanitarian assistance. Many humanitarian organisations perceive refugee livelihoods creation, often through entrepreneurship, as the main way to foster refugee self-reliance. Yet focusing on a purely economic definition of refugee self-reliance is problematic as it does not capture the diversity of personal circumstances or the multifarious ways that refugees live without international assistance.

Refugee self-reliance, livelihoods, and entrepreneurship have considerable salience – yet there remain notable gaps in understanding and supporting non-economic dimensions of refugee self-reliance. Academic and policy literature often focuses on technical economic outcomes at the expense of social and political dimensions and the use of holistic measurements. This latest RSC Research in Brief, titled Refugee Self-Reliance: Moving Beyond the Marketplace, presents new research on refugee self-reliance and addresses areas not commonly included in current discussions. In particular, it focuses on social and cultural, practical, and programmatic aspects of refugee self-reliance. In so doing, it rethinks the concept of refugee self-reliance and aims to contribute recommendations to help achieve positive outcomes in policy and practice.

This brief arose out of a two-day workshop at the Refugee Studies Centre on rethinking refugee self-reliance, convened by Evan Easton-Calabria and Claudena Skran (Lawrence University) in June 2017.

Categories: Africa, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Humanitarian Pedagogies of Transit (September 2017)


(Syrian refugee children at school in Turkey. Photo credit: worldbulletin.net)


Despite the traditionally temporary character of their interventions, humanitarian agencies providing ad hoc services in crisis-affected areas are increasingly viewing education as a necessity. As such, education has been progressively integrated into the standard humanitarian toolkit. Delivering formal education in crises, however, remains an enormous challenge. On the one hand, development aid does not provide adequate support to countries in long-term crises, and on the other, humanitarian aid generally does not prioritize education. Among displaced communities, education often loses its own acknowledged potential to bring refugees closer to the civic and political fabric of host countries. In early 2015, I observed this challenge first-hand while visiting Za‘atari and Mrajeeb el-Fhood refugee camps in northern Jordan, which are currently home to approximately 142,000 Syrian refugees (UNHCR 2017). In this context, looking at schooling curricula and materials offers interesting research avenues.

One of the most basic educational challenges in refugee settings is that of school dropouts. In 2012, approximately 121 million children were out of school worldwide, of whom 33.8 million were in conflict-affected countries and 6.2 million in Arab states (UNESCO 2015). School dropout rates are often attributed to the daily pressures that make child labor a necessity for many refugee families. However, refugee children face a number of other important barriers in accessing formal education. These barriers may be physical (military checkpoints), bureaucratic (the need to provide documentary evidence of previous schooling), economic (cost of transportation) or linguistic (not speaking the language of formal education in a host country). Moreover, an underappreciated factor affecting dropout rates is the quality of camp schools. Finally, refugees very often initially view displacement as short-lived and think that children can wait to return home to resume formal studies. This short-term approach affects decisions regarding what kind of education refugee children should receive.

From an anthropological perspective, what is interesting is the manner in which school curricula change following displacement and the re-establishment of social networks in new places.

In tackling school dropout rates, international NGOs have increasingly provided education to supplement that officially offered by host states. On a visit to Za‘atari, I spoke with a Syrian woman and a Jordanian teacher who explained that the dropout rate from formal schools financed by NGOs and UN agencies was high; informal NGO education programs had been much more successful than formal classes, even though NGOs did not provide official certificates (cf. HRW 2016). These views are supported by wider data indicating that in Jordan’s Syrian refugee camps children leave school in order to attend informal training seen as more engaging (UNICEF and REACH 2014).

Given this “humanitarianization” of education, the “emergency education” model may reduce our understanding of education to a simple humanitarian toolkit item. Instead, in both home and host states, schooling has myriad consequences. In particular, it contributes to shaping new curricula and ideas, which in turn lead to the emergence of specific political subjectivities and communities (Kenyon-Lischer 2005), which crystallize as a spontaneous response to the provision of various care services. For instance, in Za‘atari, humanitarian assistance—reliable health services, lifesaving vaccines and, sometimes, daily meals—is being provided to children in humanitarian educational spaces. Furthermore, NGOs also use these spaces as hubs to distribute aid to the community (INEE 2011).

From an anthropological perspective, what is interesting is the manner in which school curricula change following displacement and the re-establishment of social networks in new places. The humanitarian system is now one of the main actors providing refugee education and it has been crucial to the emergence of a “pedagogical culture of transit.” In refugee settings, temporary school programs become permanent (in)formal forms of “emergency education”—often delivered through psychosocial support programs—and they shape refugees’ socio-political and civic interaction with their surrounding space. This raises the issue of where camps are located and the extent to which they are segregated from local communities. For instance, Mrajeeb el-Fhood is in an extremely isolated desert location, distant from potential sources of livelihood and critical infrastructure.

These examples point to an important divide between refugee communities and institutional schooling.

I would like to suggest that anthropology has a crucial role to play in investigating the extent to which “emergency education” has been devised as a tool to integrate refugees into the local population or merely as a stopgap measure tailored to refugees as individuals in transit. Throughout my interviews with Syrian refugees in Za‘atari and Mrajeeb el-Fhood, their lack of enthusiasm towards schooling services was evident. Among many other factors, this seemed to play a large role in family decisions to alternately remain in the camps, move within Jordan, or leave the Middle East altogether. For example, most of the children I met in Za‘atari stated that they wanted to return to Syria: in a family of eight children, none was attending school, and four had dropped out two years earlier. Children’s unwillingness to stay in school was certainly related to the ease with which they could access it. However, it also had to do with the perceived low quality of “emergency education” in Jordan—a decisive factor in family decision-making regarding migration. This low quality was largely defined politically; that is, Syrian children felt the education they were receiving did not enable a reconstruction of Syrian history and memory. As Mara’, a nine year old girl from Dara‘a, recounted, “I don’t like schools here. There are 50 pupils in a class, and we don’t learn anything about Syria. No politics, no history … I ended up here, and I don’t know why!” Indeed, all students reported that they were required to follow the Jordanian curriculum. Siham, a 14 year old girl from Eastern Ghouta similarly stated, “I dropped out a year ago. I was wasting my time … I don’t feel the desire any longer to go to school here. The teachers don’t know where I come from.” In a parallel case, a Palestinian refugee I interviewed in Amman argued that values of Palestinian nationhood were promoted principally via NGO education rather than through formal UN schools operating in Palestinian refugee camps. These examples point to an important divide between refugee communities and institutional schooling.

Does such education “of transit” help generate socio-cultural resilience for refugees facing increasingly protracted displacement? Beyond the formation of new collective identities, how do young refugees envision their future within such schools founded on humanitarian goals?

What I call “emergency education” has become integral to emergency relief in diverse crisis-affected zones. On the one hand, some humanitarian donors and teachers use education as a tool to consolidate a specific regional identity. For example, Bahraini, Qatari, and Saudi schools have been established in Za‘atari. Arab Gulf–funded humanitarian services have been strongly associated with the politicization of aid and with the opportunistic formation of new political and social subjectivities (Al-Mezaini 2017). On the other hand, global North humanitarian educational programs are believed to aim ideally to neutralize refugees as political subjects, in accordance with humanitarian principles and security agendas traditionally upheld by a “global liberal governance” (Duffield 2008). In a global context of increasing hostility to migrants, NGOs and UN agencies are concerned less with refugees’ educational aspirations, and more with whether education in crisis settings contributes to social stability in host countries (UNHCR 2015).

In fact, in the Middle East, education has often been thought as a strategy to solidify social control and maintain political order, rather than one to achieve the Western ideal of education as critical to the development of independent political awareness. Likewise, the international emphasis of “emergency education” has often been on integrating refugees into host communities (EU Commission 2016) to achieve social cohesion. In contrast, I argue that in the Middle East, refugee and government schools, as well as other educational programs, have been important (though sometimes unintentional) spaces of political and cultural socialization despite decades of political oppression explicitly aimed at creating and preserving the constituencies of ruling regimes. That is, individual socialization at school occurs through various pathways, some of which are independent from the political reasons behind their establishment.

New concepts of “humanitarian education” are thus emerging that require us to critically unpack humanitarian actions and values beyond their ostensible neutrality. The needs and aspirations of refugees should be the driving force behind building a school in emergencies. In this regard, I ask: Does such education “of transit” help generate socio-cultural resilience for refugees facing increasingly protracted displacement? Beyond the formation of new collective identities, how do young refugees envision their future within such schools founded on humanitarian goals?

My preliminary research on “emergency education” looks beyond what role schooling plays in conflict and in peace building—alternately a victim of attacks or complicit with the perpetrators (Pherali 2016). Instead, it asks what the implications are of a “pedagogy of transit”—one conceived of as a short-term endeavor in which schools are a pre-resettlement educational experience that, at times, becomes permanent.

Estella Carpi is a postdoctoral research associate at University College London and Humanitarian Affairs Adviser at Save the Children UK. Holding a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Sydney, she is primarily concerned with social responses to conflict and to crisis management.

Categories: Jordan, Middle East, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Jeu et sport. Comprendre les enjeux entre pratiques de développement, protection et migration

Ethiopia-RTP(Photo by Right to Play-Ethiopia).

Appel à communications pour l’atelier:

Jeu et sport. Comprendre les enjeux entre pratiques de développement, protection et migration

WOCMES 2018 Séville (Espagne) 16-20 Juillet 2018.
Suite aux derniers flux migratoires provenant de certains pays du Moyen-Orient, les organisations internationales humanitaires mettent en place des projets de développement ayant comme moyen d’intervention les activités ludiques et sportives. Ces organisations s’approprient le jeu et le sport pour construire des solutions aux problèmes sociaux, tels que la marginalisation, le recrutement dans les groupes armés, les différentes vulnérabilités (économique, politique, sociale), et par conséquent pour faciliter l’intégration et la stabilité sociales.

En s’appuyant sur les expériences de migrations (non)forcées et les pratiques de développement humanitaire, cet atelier vise à apporter une contribution originale aux débats autour du jeu et du sport entendus à la fois comme outils d’intervention et catalyseurs des processus de formation politique, culturelle ou religieuse. Il cherche en outre à fournir un espace de discussion qui permet d’aborder les problématiques concernant les activités ludiques et sportives pour enfants et jeunes à la lumière des incertitudes économiques et existentielles, et des opportunités de (non)réussite liées à la condition de mobilité elle-même. En focalisant notamment l’attention sur les bénéficiaires ciblés par les pratiques et les projets de développement, l’atelier souhaite enfin explorer la valeur que les enfants et les jeunes attribuent aux activités ludiques et sportives.

Les communications reposant sur le croisement entre développement-action humanitaire, flux migratoires et activités de jeu/sport dans le Moyen-Orient et dans les autres pays d’accueil, seront privilégiées.

Les résumés des propositions (max. 200 mots) peuvent être envoyés aux organisatrices de l’atelier: Estella Carpi et Chiara Diana (estella.carpi@gmail.com  et dianachiara3@gmail.com) le 30 septembre 2017 au plus tard.

Les langues de travail pendant l’atelier seront l’anglais et le français.

Les communications sélectionnées pourront faire l’objet d’une publication dans un numéro spécial thématique d’une revue scientifique (anglais et français). Le projet de publication est prévu pour l’été 2019.

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Playing on the Move: Understanding Play, Care and Migration through Inter-relationality

Photo taken by: Right to Play, Ethiopia.
Call for Abstracts, WOCMES 2018
Playing on the Move: Understanding Play, Care and Migration through Inter-relationality
In the wake of the latest migration flows from the Middle Eastern region, mostly the result of economic hardships and protracted political failures, humanitarian and development organisations have increasingly been relying on play and sports as a
back-route to integration and social stability. The values that societies assign to play and sports activities for children and youth are well encapsulated by protection, discipline and education.
In this framework, play and sports, which do not necessarily complement each other, are deployed as vehicles to address broad societal issues, such as marginalisation, war recruitment and economic or political vulnerabilities.
Drawing on the experiences of (un)forced migrations and development or humanitarian practices, this panel seeks to contribute to those debates that maintain play activities and sport are an end per se or to frame them as catalysts for political, cultural or religious formation processes.
The panel is particularly interested in contributions tackling the intersection between development/humanitarian action, migration flows and play/sports activities in Middle Eastern and other societies that have become home to Arab background diasporas.
Lastly, it seeks to provide a terrain of discussion regarding what ludic and physical
activities do to the agency of children and youth, particularly in light of the economic and existential uncertainties and opportunities that human mobility entails. In an attempt to move beyond the definition of development and humanitarian agendas, how do children and youth on the move make sense of ludic and sports activities?
Individuals who wish to contribute can send a 200-word abstract to
Panel convenors: Dr Estella Carpi, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the
University College London; and Dr Chiara Diana, Research Associate at IREMAM-
CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université.
Abstracts will be accepted until 20 November 2017. The selected contributors will participate in the WOCMES 2018 conference which will take place in Sevilla (Spain) from July 16 to July 20.
The convenors are planning to edit an anthology of articles focusing on play and
sports that are meant as development and humanitarian tools in migration, to be
published in 2019.
Categories: Middle East, migration, Play, Sport, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Necro-politiche della disuguaglianza nel sud del Libano (July 2016)


Sarafand cimitero nuovo

(di Estella Carpi, per SiriaLibano). Siamo spesso erroneamente portati a credere che un cimitero ospiti solo morti, ricordi, rimorsi, gioie mai più ripresentatasi e sentimenti di questo tipo.

A Sarafand, la cui origine fenicia è Zarephath – piccola località costiera nella regione di Sahel az Zahrani tra Sidone e Tiro, nel sud del Libano – c’è un cimitero nuovo e uno vecchio. Basta una chiacchierata con gli abitanti della cittadina per rendersi conto che la gestione degli spazi cimiteriali rivela questioni di sovranità territoriale, una diversa dignità morale degli abitanti, e i poteri formali e informali esistenti che decidono della vita come della morte di tanti.

Il cimitero è solo una delle tante forme di politica dello spazio a Sarafand. In una realtà come il Libano in cui, ogniqualvolta si ripresentino crisi politico-umanitarie, la gestione dei servizi pubblici viene condotta da attori in gran parte esterni (agenzie Onu e organizzazioni non governative), la gestione delle morti e il diritto allo spazio e al riconoscimento socio-morale che ne deriva tornano nelle mani delle municipalità locali. E di queste si rispolverano così le croniche carenze amministrative e finanziarie. Questo accade in misura ancora più evidente a Sarafand, dove l’azione umanitaria delle agenzie internazionali si focalizza molto meno frequentemente.

Sarafand è abitata da lungo tempo da lavoratori siriani, spesso impiegati in lavori manuali, nella pulizia delle strade, nel settore edile e agricolo. Alla luce della crisi politica del 2011, migliaia di questi migranti hanno portato in Libano le loro famiglie estese. Il numero dei rifugiati siriani a Sarafand – di cui troppo spesso si fa un fascio d’erba unico – si dice ora superi quello della popolazione locale. Il comune di Sarafand e il capo dell’Unione delle municipalità di Sahel az Zahrani, evidenziano entrambi le difficoltà di trovare spazi per seppellire i morti. Un problema che precede di gran lunga la crisi siriana.

Secondo alcuni cittadini locali, i rifugiati siriani che abitano a Sarafand ormai da qualche anno sarebbero stati sul punto di organizzare un sit-in di carattere politico per rivendicare spazio per seppellire i propri morti. Conversando con i rifugiati di Sarafand, si tocca con mano la frustrazione che la vita nel Paese ospitante riserva ai profughi di guerra e violenze, e la condanna alla morte sociale di queste componenti demografiche. Se in tempo di crisi cibo, medicine, materassi e servizi forniti dalle agenzie umanitarie non possono di certo compensare la graduale perdita quotidiana della precedente normalità, essere riconosciuti come abitanti con dignità al diritto di sepoltura, di ricordo e di riconoscimento sociale post mortem solleva le medesime responsabilità umane.

In seguito a queste rivendicazioni e per evitare che le richieste assumessero infine la tinta di una protesta politica, il cimitero nuovo di Sarafand è stato allargato di qualche ettaro.

Secondo alcuni abitanti libanesi, la comunità palestinese locale è stata disposta a concedere parte del proprio spazio ai nuovi arrivati siriani per la sepoltura dei loro defunti. La comunità palestinese, dal proprio canto, non si è sentita invece interpellata in tale decisione municipale. Una giovane donna palestinese commenta che “essere figli di uno Stato non riconosciuto, di nessuna amministrazione, costringe alla limitazione dei propri diritti… Ci è stato forse chiesto cosa volessimo concedere? Non vi è nessun rappresentante della comunità palestinese né tantomeno nessuno è stato interpellato a questo riguardo… e ancora la definiscono una nostra concessione”.

Molti dei rifugiati siriani di Sarafand vivono in edifici nuovi, apparentemente costruiti per ghettizzare la popolazione non locale in spazi definiti e lontani dal resto della realtà urbana. C’è chi ritiene la municipalità efficiente e disponibile, ma impossibilitata a risolvere la questione dello spazio cimiteriale perché non all’interno delle proprie capacità giuridiche. C’è chi invece accusa la municipalità di riuscire ad avviare progetti ambiziosi di riciclaggio e preziose partnerships con agenzie internazionali, senza voler risolvere la questione dello spazio cimiteriale. “Nessuna speranza per ricordare. Nessuna speranza per morire in pace! La municipalità rifiuta la concessione di spazi per i nostri morti perché spera di liberarsi di noi… Ho provato a cercare in tutto il Libano un modo per non mandare il corpo di mia madre in Siria… Non ritornerò facilmente lì dove son cresciuto… Dovrei lasciarla appassire lontana dal mio ricordo e dalla mia devozione? Non è facile neanche ottenere un’ambulanza per un siriano durante le ore del coprifuoco serale… Il maltrattamento che subiamo all’ordine del giorno non renderà la nostra permanenza temporanea”, afferma in modo significativo un uomo siriano di mezza età.

Secondo alcune voci locali, tuttavia, non sarebbe lo status legale e neppure la nazionalità del defunto a garantire una degna sepoltura e una degna devozione da parte dei propri familiari. È piuttosto lo status sociale a determinare la dignità del vivo come del morto. “L’unica cosa che importa” – mi dice un venditore di schede telefoniche sulla strada principale di Sarafand –  “è che tipo di siriano sei, che tipo di palestinese sei, e così via… qual è il tuo status sociale, insomma”.

Della stessa opinione è un altro residente di Sarafand che accenna al fatto che “per seppellire il corpo di una persona illustre, miracolosamente, lo spazio si trova!”. Una cittadina libanese di Sarafand in modo analogo esclama: “La municipalità aveva appena negato la possibilità di nuove sepolture nel cimitero nuovo anche per noi libanesi, quand’ecco che un imprenditore ha avuto modo addirittura di farsi spazio in quello vecchio!”.

Classe sociale, status legale, wasta locale. I fattori che danno diritto a vivere e morire sono diversi quanto le narrative locali della diseguaglianza che ho dovuto digerire in un solo pomeriggio.

Con sgomento del grande Totò, neanche la morte, a Sarafand, è ‘na livella.

Categories: Lebanon, Middle East, Syria, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Crisis & Control, (In)Formal Hybrid Security in Lebanon (July 2016)

The report I co-authored with Marie-Noelle Abi-Yaghi and Mariam Younes from Lebanon Support (Beirut) has just been published: http://cskc.daleel-madani.org/resource/crisis-control-informal-hybrid-security-lebanon. If you wish to access the resulting policy brief authored by Lebanon Support’s partner International Alert, click on the following link: http://www.international-alert.org/sites/default/files/Lebanon_LocalSecuritySyrianRefugees_PolicyBrief_EN_2016.pdf.

We have conducted 3-month field research in Aley, Shebaa, and Ebrine in Lebanon.

Here below the executive summary of our research.

This report aims to analyze how formal and informal security providers implement their respective social order agendas through a security “assemblage”. It also aims to inform the debate on refugee protection and security provision in urban settings, in the context of Lebanon’s hybrid security system. The accounts collected illustrate how state security institutions tacitly accept – or even rely on – informal security actors, managing at times to achieve their political and strategic goals through decentralized and/or illegal forms of control. In this vein, local municipalities imposed curfews and street patrols, which, far from being an institutional measure, follow a flexible and unpredictable pattern.1 Three localities have been selected for the purpose of this research – namely Aley in Mount Lebanon, Ebrine in North Lebanon, and Shebaa in South Lebanon. The choice of these localities was driven by their different political and social history, their demographic homogeneity or diversity, and their relationship with surrounding regions. The investigation of the Syrian refugees’ access to security systems constitutes an interpretative lens through which the analysis of securitization processes in Lebanon can be undertaken. The notion of security we will discuss here is polysemantic: it does not only encompass regional or domestic conflicts, but also suggests a particular social form of waiting; a climate of fear portending the worse that is yet to come. As a matter of fact, this climate of fear encourages preemptive security measures and serves as a deterrent against violent outbursts. Therefore, manifestations of insecurity or security threats are often routinized perceptions and, as such, integrated into accounts of ordinary everyday life. Security plays a multifaceted role in the three settings selected for thorough analysis. It builds the cohesiveness of the local communities, while fending off endemic societal fragmentation. This is mainly because local people tend to identify with a single homogenous entity that needs to protect itself against external threats, with these threats being represented nowadays by Syrian refugees, who may become “radicalized” and destabilize the “host” space. And since security goes beyond the exclusion of risk and jeopardy, the official discourse of local security providers entails the protection of refugees. While we draw on the classic normative distinction of security providers into formal and informal, our analysis moves beyond such a rigid differentiation. The formal/ informal dichotomy fades away when security is discussed as a hybrid assemblage of unpredictable and situational forces enforced in particular circumstances. Our findings confirm that formal security is partially implemented through informal local actors, providing a terrain of common interest in the preservation of social order. In addition, security cannot be viewed as a given “social fact”: it is rather a contextual process embedded in multiple power relations that preserve social order in a given space and reinforce social status and community identification.

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Call for Papers for Sixth Istanbul Human Security Conference 2016 (19-20-21 October)

image4Call for Papers for the panel—“Protecting People or Protecting Orders? Displacement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region” to take place at the sixth Istanbul Human Security Conference, The Human Security Implications of the Refugee Crisis: Evaluating Current Policies and Discussing Potential Solutions, 19-20-21 October 2016. This panel will be under the “Responses to Refugee Crises in the World” conference theme.

Please send 200 word (max) abstracts to Estella Carpi at estella.carpi@gmail.com no later than Friday, May 27. Authors of accepted papers will be notified Monday, May 30 for final panel submission June 1.


Panel proposal for: “Responses to Refugee Crises in the World”

Panel Title: “Protecting People or Protecting Orders? Displacement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region”

Estella Carpi (New York University – Abu Dhabi) and Giulia El Dardiry (McGill University)

From domestic affairs to international politics, “human security” has been associated with a reframing of political discourse in which the “human” rather than the “state” has become the fundamental objective of political action. In emergency contexts, this has resulted in increasing humanitarian efforts to provide personal, political, economic, community, environmental, health, and food security to distressed communities.

Characterized by protracted conflicts, a precarious economy and endemic political instability, the MENA is a region where humanitarian and political action in service of “human security” continues to be urgent. However, in the long shadow cast by the defining experience of the Palestinian refugee displacements, international actors are increasingly framing the transnational mobilities of Sudanese, Somalis, Iraqis, Libyans, and Syrians as an instantiation of the global threat posed by open borders.

This panel asks how humanitarian practices deployed on the ground with the explicit aim of guaranteeing “human security” contribute instead to maintaining the Middle East geopolitical order. The selected papers will critically interrogate how the discourse of “human security”—rather than shifting political priorities from states to people—re-inscribes state power and interests, successfully vesting geopolitics with the moral aura of a people-centered approach, even as it displaces millions from their homes.

Categories: Middle East, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Il discorso confessionale e il fondamentalismo annesso (by Estella, May 2016)


Edizione del 06.05.2016

Le chiavi di lettura occidentali sui confilitti in medio oriente: un paradigma confessionale? Ne parliamo con l’ antropologa sociale Estella Carpi

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الأقلّيات” و”الأغلبيات”: تناوب على السلطة أم تمثيل عددي؟”

الأقلّيات” و”الأغلبيات”: تناوب على السلطة أم تمثيل عددي؟”

يتّفق العلماء والمفكرون وأصحاب الرأي والجمهور العام، في كثيرٍ من الأحيان، على أن الشاغل الرئيسي والحتمي في الشرق الأوسط المعاصر هو التنوع الديني، والحاجة إلى حماية «الأقليات» الدينية، فقد أصبح تدريجياً ما يُعرفُ بالأقليات الدينية سمةً أساسية من سمات السياسة الدوَلية. وعادةً تُنَاقَش هذه «الأقليات» على أنّها كيانات غير قابلة للتغيير، وأنها متميّزة بأصول سياسية متجانسة في الشؤون الدوَلية، وأيضاً كفئات تحليلية يمكن من خلالها فهم الشرق الأوسط بشكل سريع.

وسيشيرُ التحليل التالي إلى تجاهل الميزات المصطنعة للأقليات الدينية، كما الأغلبيات، في السياسة الدوَلية المعاصرة. وستعتمد الأمثلة التاريخية التالية على مفاهيم تفسيرية شاملة، لشرح الامتيازات المدنية أو الحرمان الإجتماعي، وسيتم تسليط الضوء على الصداقة أو العداوة التي تشكّل العلاقات بين «الأقليات» الدينية المختلفة.

في محاولة استقراء ظهور مصطلح «الأقليات» في الإنتاج العِلمي، يربط المؤرّخ بينجامين وايت في 2011 تاريخَ الأقليات بتكوين الدول القومية في الشرق الأوسط. وكتب وايت أن مصطلح «الأقليات» كان قد ظهر في الثلاثينات من القرن الماضي فقط بسبب البيروقراطية الفرنسية، التي كانت لا تزال تهيمن على البلاد في ذلك الوقت، وبسبب تدخّل الدولة في حياة الناس اليومية. وفعلاً ازداد استخدام مصطلح «الأقلية» خصوصاً في الفترة الّتي أعقبت الانتداب الفرنسي لسوريا في الأربعينات. ومن ثم بدأت الدولة في الشرق الأوسط الحديث تُمثّلُ الناس بشكلٍ جماعي، كما بدأ كل عنصرٍ في المجتمع ينظر إلى نفسه بوصفه قابلاً للتصنيف، إمّا بناءاً على استياء الأقليات من حرمان أفرادها من الخدمات المجتمعية، أو على إشباع الأغلبيات نتيجةً للإشراك المجتمعي. وفي الواقع، يشيرُ تمثيل هذه الفئات الاجتماعية بذاته إلى التماسك والتجانس.

وبناءاً على ما كان يصفه العالم الاجتماعي بيير بورديو بـ «الرأسمال الإعلامي والمعرفي»، تُعزى المسميات الطائفية إلى إرادات شعبية متنوعة في جميع أنحاء الشرق الأوسط. وهكذا فإنه على سبيل المثال، يبدو من الطبيعي أن يُحكَم العراق بهيمنة نظام شيعي بعد عهد صدام حسّين، فقط لأنّ أغلبية السكان شيعة. وعلى نحو مماثل بعد أن بدأت في عام 2011 أزمة سياسية غير مسبوقة  في سوريا، فإنه لا يمكن الحكم دون اعتراض لدى الأغلبية السنية السورية كون النظام الحاكم من الأقلية العلوية. وكذلك بما أنه من السائد لدى الخبراء أنّ أكثرية الناس في البحرين شيعة، لذا فإنهم يحتاجون إلى نظام شيعي لإنهاء السخط المحلّي وتلبية المطالب بالحرّية. وأيضاً من السائد التفكيرُ أن السلطة الحاكمة في إيران مستقرّة، فقط بفضل ائتلاف شيعي حاكم على الأغلبية الشيعة الساحقة.

يستطيعُ الإنسان عن طريق فهم ماضيه أن يشعر بواجب المحافظة على الوعي الجماعي, إذ إنّ الارتباط المباشر بين الأغلبيات وفكرة الهيمنة، وبين الأقليات وفكرة التبعية، يُلقي بظلّه على مواقع السلطة المتغيرة التي تُكوّن أساس العلاقات المجتمعية. وفي هذا الصدد, تقدم الثورة السورية حالةً مثاليةً من خلال تصويرها على وسائل الإعلام الدوَلية، وبشكلٍ سابقٍ لأوانه، كحربٍ أهلية، أو عبارة عن مجموعة مطالب طائفية ومتحيزة للأغلبية السنية. ومن المضلّل القول إنّ تحرير الأغلبية السنية يؤدي إلى اضطهاد الأقليات، وبالإضافة إلى ذلك يحجب هذا الاعتقاد توزيع السلطة الواقعي في المجتمع السوري. ومع ذلك, فقد قلّل هذا التفسير للحقائق الاجتماعية في سوريا من التضامن الدوَلي مع المتظاهرين السوريين، على خلاف الثورتين المصرية والتونسية.

وفي الواقع، تتراوح درجة تعاطف المجتمع الدوَلي مع قضايا سياسية معينة, حيث يقوم بالتدخل العسكري في الشرق الأوسط على أساس الاحتياج المضلّل إلى حماية الأقليات الأساسية المقيمة في الإقليم. وفي هذا السياق، يتم التلميح لازدواجية المعرفة بالأغلبيات والأقليات. على سبيل المثال، إنّ وصف الأكراد بالأقلّية في العراق وإيران وسوريا وتركيا كونهم «مظلومين» اجتماعياً، هو وصفٌ مخادعٌ إذا أردنا تفسير سبب سوء أوضاعهم المعيشية، أو التركيز على الجوهر السياسي لمفهوم «الأقلية».

وفعلاً، «الأقلّية» الكردية تتألّف من حوالي 30 مليون شخص، ولكن إلى اليوم لا يزال فكر الدولة القومية يسبّب وصفهم بالأقلية. وبالمثل، اعتمد تدخّل الدولة في الحياة اليومية في الشرق الأوسط، وعموماً الكيانات «اللوثيانية»، على إستراتيجية «فرّق تسُد» الّتي شجّعت الحركات الانفصالية والاستقلال السياسي للمجتمعات المختلفة، كوسيلةٍ وحيدة لقبول هويتها.

وكانت أعمال العنف التي يرتكبها «تنظيم الدولة» ضدّ عناصر المجتمع الموجودة في بلاد ما بين النهرين، تعزّز الاقتناع بأهمية «حماية الأقليات الدينية»، وبالتالي تكرّس استخدام الدين كأداة لإنتاج المعرفة الحصريّة.

أمّا حالياً، يقوم التنظيم بالاعتداء يومياً على المسلمين والمسيحيين بنحو مماثل، وغالباً يقتل الأشخاص الذين يرفضون سلطته بشكل مباشر، أو يعارضون «الخلافة» بأشكالٍ عديدة, ولكن فقط بفضل أعدادهم نصفهم بالمظلومين، لكي نعبّر عن مخاوفنا ونوايانا السياسية.

ومفهومُ التحليل العلمي «للدين» على أنّه خانةٌ فارغة، نستطيع ملأها بأي معنى، هو مفهومٌ مغلوط، ولكنّه لا يزال قادراً على صياغة الأحداث، وعلى رفع المشاعر الجماعية على نطاقٍ واسع. وفي الأمثلة التي قدّمتها سابقاً، في فهم تاريخ الشرق الأوسط، يعتمدُ فكر الهويات المتجانسة على أساليب معرفية مضلّلة، كما لو أنّها كيانات موضوعية ومعبّرة عن مبادئ سياسية ثابتة. وبعبارة أخرى، يتم اعتبار عناصر المجتمع الدينية والعرقية في حال طمحت إلى وطن مستقلّ وانتِماء فطري إلى أراضيها، على أساس هويتها فقط. ومثلاً لماذا لا يُعدّ المسيحيون الخاضعون لسلطة «تنظيم الدولة»، ولا الأكراد أيضاً، معارضين لسلطة الدولة المطلقة أو لأي كيانٍ أخر؟

يلجأ المجتمع الدولي، وليس السياسيون فقط، إلى لغة «حماية الأقليات» واستراتيجيتها على نحوٍ متزايد، فالحماية الاستعمارية للأقليات في الشرق الأوسط حوّلت المجموعات المتدينة غير المتجانسة، إلى كيانات متماسكة منفصلة. وعلى ضوء ذلك تتعرّض «الأقلّيات» أيضاً لخطر المجازر، أو التمييز بالحقوق المدنية، كلما تطلّبت ذلك المصالح السياسية أو ظروفٌ مادية معينة، ومن المفارقات أن يأتي حُرّاس الأقلّيات الأجانب لإنقاذها في السياق التاريخي الذي ترعرعت فيه.

وعلاوةً على ذلك, حسب الرأي السائد في الخارج وفي الشرق الأوسط، تتصادم هذه المقومات الدينية بشكلٍ دائم. وإذا نظرنا إلى الجذور التاريخية للعداوات الإقليمية المزمنة، فقد خدمت حماية الأقليات عبر التاريخ نفوذ السلطات الغربية في المنطقة, مثل الحماية الفرنسية للمسيحيين في سوريا، والحماية الفرنسية للموارنة في جبل لبنان، وخصوصاً أثناء الاقتتال مع الدروز، الذين كانوا تحت رعاية البريطانيين في القرن التاسع عشر.

وبالتالي، التلاعبُ السياسي في مفاهيم الأقليات والأغلبيات في إنتاج معرفة الشرق الأوسط، هو غالباً عملٌ أيديولوجي لا يزال يُصبَغ بمواريث استعمارية، وبالتأكيد ليس سيناريو الشرق الأوسط استثنائياً في هذا الإطار، لأنّ بعض المجموعات الاجتماعية أصغر من ما يسمّى «الأغلبيات» العرقية أو الدينية التي تعيش في الدولة القومية نفسها، ولكنّها لم تطور الإحساس الذاتي بأنّها «أقليات». على سبيل المثال، تُمثَّل الجاليات الآسيوية في تشيلي كمجتمعاتِ مهاجرين في الأخبار وفي الأدب المتعلق بهم، وعلى النقيض من ذلك، يُسمّى المغتربون من بوليفيا وبيرو في تشيلي «بالأقليات»، لأنهم هاجروا من دوَل جارة حاربت تشيلي في حرب إقليمية في القرن التاسع عشر، وذلك يؤكد استخدام الاستقطاب الثنائي السياسي لمفاهيم الأغلبية والأقلية.

ينتهجُ الحُكّام والجمهور والعلماء التصنيف الديني كإشارةٍ إلى قُربٍ أو بُعدٍ سياسي، وعلى نحو مماثل كان المسيحيون الأرثوذكسيون اليونانيون أكثر استعداداً لقبول الأمة العربية السورية في الثلاثينات من المذاهب المسيحية الأخرى، وكان يسمّى هذا المجموع «بقرابة الإسلام» في ظلّ وجود أغلبية مسلمة في الحركة القومية السورية، وعامّةً تحُثّ القضايا السياسية المشتركة المسلمين على البحث عن تسميات معبّرة عن قُربٍ ديني من المسيحيين الأرثوذكسيين. وطبعاً العامل السياسي هو مكوِّنٌ واحدٌ لمفهوم الدين القديم والمتعدّد، الذي يُستعمل إلى حدّ كبير في العلوم السياسية والاجتماعية. والنظرة التحليلية لمفهوم الدين، هي وسيلة مصطنعة تحتوي على عادات ومبادئ وعقائد وأخلاق معنوية، وسلوكيات بشرية متناقضة.

تؤدّي فرضية «استثنائية الشرق الأوسط»، إلى تصوّر انقسام الإقليم بشكل فطريٍ ومُبرَم، إلى أقليات دينية وعرقية متجانسة ومطواعة لسياسات الهوية, ومن مسؤوليتنا مواجهةُ سوء الفهم والقصور الفكري الأهلي والدوَلي، والعمل على تحسين أساليب معرفية وإدراكية في النقاش حول الشرق الأوسط.

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