SUMMARY:The role of remittances in the political economies of the Middle East has traditionally been an important subject for scholars interested in challenges of development in resource poor countries, “absence” of broad-based political mobilization, as well as unconventional mechanisms for sustaining social welfare since neoliberal reforms in the late 1980s. The scholarship on the subject predominantly focuses on aggregate data on size of remittances, in relation to the GDP with few empirical attempts to comparatively survey the motives for remitting, or the impact on recipient households. Except for Lebanon, the literature did not explore dynamics of remittances in contexts of violent conflict. Post- Arab uprisings, however, the reality of remittances has shifted in important ways. While the overall volume of remittances flowing into labor exporting economies has exponentially increased, new massive waves of forced displacement have also created new remittance-dependent countries, like Syria where inflows reached by some estimates US 8.5 billion or 30.6% of the GDP in 2017. In the latter contexts, remittances are not just vitally important for building community resilience and sustaining local livelihoods but may be later leveraged for recovery and reconstruction purposes. This panel presents an empirically grounded analysis of the political economy of remittances in Syria. The papers inquire into the structuring effects of successive US and EU sanctions, national banking regulations, the Lebanese financial crisis and macro-economic dynamics following COVID, on the ability of Syrian migrants to remit and their choice of channels. Further, the papers will present comparative contextual analyses of Syrian remittances from migrants based in Germany, Jordan and Turkey, by examining demographic and socio-economic characteristics of senders, as well as the impacts of both migration and labor market regulations on remittance flows. Findings from these papers also shed lights on the incentives shaping choice of money transfer mechanisms by migrants. The panel will also engage with remittances from the household recipient side, looking at how the variety of legal- regulatory frameworks in Syria (de jure and de facto) have affected flows, while also exploring their distributive impact and gendered access. By examining remittances from the perspectives of the global political economy, the sending and the recipient sides, the papers in this panel contribute to the scholarship on the transformation of political economies following the Arab Spring, as well as larger debates on the socio-economic impacts of sanctions, in addition to the empirical studies of migration, and war economies.
FUNDING:Funding received from Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany)
DISCIPLINES:Pol Science; Pol Science