Project abstract

From revolt to War in Syria : Conflict, displacements, uncertainties

Understanding the upheavals that Syria has experienced since 2011 is an epistemological, ethical and reflective challenge, as the researcher’s involvement has become almost inevitable. The SHAKK (“uncertainty” in Arabic) project intends to take up these different challenges in a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective. Associating the Center for Social Sciences of Religion (CéSOR), the French Institute for the Near East (Ifpo), the Audiovisual Department of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) and  the Institute of Research and Study on the Arab and Muslim Worlds (Iremam) the team is composed of nine researchers – anthropologists, political scientists, historians and linguists – in addition to a research engineer, an Arabist, a digital humanities specialist, and finally an archivist specialized in audiovisual technology. The pooling of scientific and technical skills is essential to carry out a project with many ambitions.

The aim of SHAKK is first of all to return to the genesis of the revolt and the stages of its transformation into a military conflict, by referencing actors, trajectories, actions and narratives that have insofar received little attention. We will analyze in a detailed and nuanced manner the political, religious, social, territorial and memorial reconfigurations specific to this context of uncertainty and of extreme violence. Our research will be enriched by a reflection on the social relations that have been broken, suspended and renewed by the revolt and the ensuing war. These relations will be touched upon through the notions of displacement and indetermination. Displacement and indetermination of centers of power; of identities; of borders; of the religious and the political; of categories; and of paradigms. These two notions are particularly heuristic when ruminating on this in-between moment – made of disruptions, disorders and disagreements – that we call the war. Moreover, our team will reflect on the methods of investigation: we will work outside the Syrian national borders while seeking to minimize the distance posed by the war. We will conduct surveys in the neighboring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan) and in Europe (France, Sweden and Germany). We will also conduct online interviews with those who have remained (via Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype). Finally, and this is the novelty of this project, the digital space – more specifically, the countless videos posted on YouTube by the various protagonists of the revolt and the ensuing war – will constitute not only a distinguished subject of investigation whose tools of collection and analysis will be sharpened, but will also be the subject of further reflection on the protection of the memory of these events.

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