[P2432] Refugees in Syria (1915- 1948)

Created by Seda Altug
Saturday, 11/20/10 02:30pm


Syria has witnessed a huge refugee flow during World War I (1914-1918) and afterwards continuing until early 1940s. Armenians formed the first biggest wave following the Armenian genocide (1915). Thousands of Christians from different sects, Kurds, Circassians, Jews as well as several political dissidents from Republican Turkey were added onto the existing Armenian refugees. Ceding of the Sanjak of Alexandretta to Turkey (1939) formed another wave of population flow into French-Syria. This last group included the Sunni-Arabs and Alawites, too. In short, French-Syria has become either the first transit stop or the new-residence for several "undesirables" excluded by the Turkish nationalist ideology. Palestinians' forced displacement into Syria following the foundation of Israel (1948) formed the second biggest refugee flow. The refugee politics of the mandatory France was informed by its political-economic concerns and ethno-religious politics. The same can be argued for the post-independence regimes in Syria, despite the fact that the practice and discourse varied greatly between the two periods.
Nevertheless, scholarship on Syria lacks in-depth studies about the dialectically constitutive relationship between the refugees, the local Syrians and the (post)colonial state. This panel aims to fill in this gap. A critical reading of refugee-ness in Syria upon the former's early arrival, contested understandings of refugee as a political or legal/bureaucratic fiction/identity, transformation in the notion of refugee in the Arab nationalist imagery from the early encounters in early 1920s to the post-colonial period, domestic and regional politics and ideology as the constitutive outside of the refugee subjectivity in Syria, refugees and state formation are some of the themes that the organizers are willing to discuss in the intended panel.





Orit Bashkin

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Laura Robson

(Pennsylvania State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;