Call for proposals : History and memory through the test of revolt and war in Syria
Since 1970, the domination of the Assad family on Syria isn’t limited by its total monopoly on the state apparatus and its economic resources, but extends to the rigid control of the entire Syrian society and all of communication within it. Ancient, modern and contemporary history are all part of a political engineering scheme, with the aim of imposing a monolithic and falsified vision of the past and its memory. The 2011 revolution not only provoked political and social upheaval, but also created a radical rupture with the traditional discourse and semantic rules that had been imposed tillthen. Multiple methods of expression and writing, in the streets, in digital sphere or within the spaces of cultural production reshaped the new norms of self-consciousness and gave a new way of defining their relationship to the world, in Syria and later, in exile. The revolution opened new possibilities to reappropriate and redefine the past in multiple ways, ranging from national to local history, whilst being itself in the heart of an intense narrative and memorial battle.
This symposium aims to bring together anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists and historians to conduct acommon discussion on these acts of “storytelling” of oneself, one’s family, one’s hometown, the revolution and the warwhilst also examining events that took place recently, as well as further in time, made possible by the 2011 upheaval. The speakers are encouraged to shed light on the permanence of these narratives, their transformation and their reconfiguration since 2011. We wish to explore three thematics within our reflection, whilst also questioning the renewed relationship between researchers and their sources and methods.
- Taming the past to discipline the present: official historic discourse and its role in the national space
The longstanding historical narrative that is fixed in the Syrian public space is simultaneously due to the continued interventions from the Assad regime as well as a general inertia linked to the Syrian nation-state structural establishment. By revealing, emphasising or hiding facts, places or actors perceived as major or minor, this is the method that shapesauthorised discourse, and contributes to build physical, social and economic spaces. The people’s adhesion, whether by sincerity or façade, to this framework is one of the regime’s supporting pillars. For this reason, particular attention shall be brought to the concept of denial, deletion or distortion of particular historical, social or religious facts, and the semantic value that a critical analysis of these facts could bring. Therefore it will be critical to question to what extent these forced narratives, omnipresent in the public space and daily lives of ordinary citizens, could have contributed to the protests, either explicitor implicit, before and after 2011.
- The 2011 revolution: when history echoes
Whilst the revolution imposes itself as a telling moment of the rewriting of historical narratives and of the invention frameworks to express oneself, we shall examine the methods used since 2011 to contest the official historical narrative, whilst also focusing on the reappropriation and reactualisation of history and common memory. Which historical references are subject to distortion and reappropriation? But also, how in the context of the redaction of these new narratives are figures, episodes, historical, ancient or new events forgotten or deleted? The tendency to bring up key pivotal stories and figures since 2011 in different Syrian spaces also merits a reflection on the political and historiographic challenges of emerging localisms and regionalisms. The reflection will also focus on the ways that the revolutionary event comes into line with other events in Syrian history. How are the protagonists of the revolution and rivals working on building symmetries between past revolts or destroying them?
- Forms and challenges of reappropriating narratives and memories
The revolution and the subsequent conflict in Syria created a great number of documents and traces produced by the protagonists themselves. Since the very first demonstrations, the act of testimony and the worry of establishing facts was at the heart of the preoccupations of a great number of those who took part in them. The occupation of public spaces when possible, the occupation of new spaces notably in digital spheres, artistic, cultural and militant, lead to mass production of scattered narratives that will be looking to examine. What are their forms, roles, and how are they disseminated and received ? How do they evolve through time and exile ? To what extent can they contribute today to write history in a “post-war” context, adequate to the regime’s rehabilitation attempts, and deletion of its crimes.
Submit a communication
Communication proposals (title and summary of 500 words in French or English) are expected by the 10th of November 2022 and should be sent to the scientific committee of the symposium:
- Anna Poujeau : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cécile Boëx : email@example.com
- Boris James : firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanessa Guéno : email@example.comNotifications will be sent to authors before the 25th of November 2022.
Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the organisers of the Symposium for the speakers.
- Deadline for submission of abstracts: November 10th, 2022.
- Conference venue : Ifpo Beirut
- Dates: 25-27 January 2023