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Enacting Citizenship

A Case Study of a Syrian Refugee Protest in Germany

Lucia Volk

In June and July 2015, a group of Syrian asylum seekers and local refugee supporters organised a protest camp in Dortmund, Germany. For 53 days, about 50 protesters at a time slept under open tarps on the pavement in front of the city’s main train station, demanding a quicker asylum review process and reunification with their families. This article focusses on the refugees’ interactions with different state actors on the municipal and state levels, and illustrates how the Syrian refugees were able to enact citizenship subjectivities. Through sustained and well-organised public protest, refugees claimed their place within the host community. Importantly, they became active contributors to the debate over Germany’s response to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ and proved that political activism can help promote political and legal change.

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Introduction

States of Displacement: Middle Eastern Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Asylum Seekers in Global Context

Lucia Volk and Marcia C. Inhorn

The plight of forcibly displaced persons may have lost the spotlight in the global news cycle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Middle Eastern refugee crisis has continued unabated. Nearly 80 million people have been forcibly displaced, including millions of Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, and Yemenis. In this special issue, anthropologists highlight different states of displacement – protracted, repeated and recent – amongst Middle Eastern populations that have fled to Germany, Greece, Jordan and Turkey. Amidst profound precarity, refugees manage to negotiate new geographies of displacement, re-create a sense of home, plan their reproductive futures, organise protests to claim their asylum rights, and engage in activism and solidarity. Featuring nuanced ethnographic studies, this special issue bears witness to refugees’ fortitude and resilience.

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‘Life Is Tight Here’

Displacement and Desire amongst Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan

Morgen A. Chalmiers

Since the civil war began in 2011, 5.5 million Syrians have fled their home country and are now living as refugees. Building upon anthropological studies of precarity, the article draws upon 14 months of person-centered ethnographic fieldwork to examine the contextual specificities of Syrian women’s protracted displacement in Jordan. By foregrounding bodily experience as described by three interlocutors during person-centered interviews, the article considers how subjectivities are reshaped under such conditions. The narratives analysed here illustrate how the precarity of displacement fosters an embodied sense of tightness, constriction and stagnation while reconfiguring temporal horizons and rendering visions of imagined futures increasingly myopic.

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Min Al-Mukhayyam’ (‘From the Camp’)

Discourses of Difference and the Boundaries of Exile amongst Palestinian Refugees in Jordan

Michael Pérez

This article examines the implications of long-term encampment and exile for the meaning of Palestinian identity amongst refugees. It shows how the conditions of Palestinian camps in Jordan function as a key marker of social difference between refugees of the camps and the city. Whereas camp refugees see the hardships of camp life as conditions to be confronted, urban refugees take them as constitutive features of a socially distinct refugee. As I argue, the distinctions between camp and city refugees illustrate how the refugee category and the humanitarian camp exceed the ideology and function of humanitarianism. They demonstrate how, in protracted refugee situations, the refugee label and the historical context of the camp can become socially significant and contested features of identity.

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The Obligation Is the Point

Refugee 2 Refugee’ Care and Solidarity in Greece

Zareena Grewal

This article examines how grassroots refugee-activists and ‘solidarians’ in Greece articulate a collectivist political vision and praxis of care through an expanding network of social obligation that upends narrow understandings of refugees’ ‘basic’ rights and moral obligations of care. The refugees draw on a wide range of universalising collectivist frames including Islamic, Anarcho-Marxist and Palestinian-liberationist frames to articulate visions of solidarity and nurture trust and mutual care amongst refugees.

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Nell Gabiam

This article focusses on Al-Nur, a community centre in Istanbul, Turkey, that caters to Syrian and Palestinian Syrian refugees. It is based on five months of fieldwork conducted in the winter and spring of 2017 in Turkey that included participant observation as a volunteer English teacher at Al-Nur. A focus on the philosophy that guides Al-Nur’s functioning as a community centre as well as on the stories of displacement of some of its managers and volunteers sheds light on the importance of being able to (re)create home in exile. Such a focus also sheds light on how repeated displacement has shaped Palestinian Syrian refugees’ experiences of exile from Syria as well as their interactions with Syrian refugees.

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Reports

Publications and Films

Kathleen M. Gallagher, Ahmed Kanna, Natalie Nesvaderani, Rana Dajani, Dima Hamadmad, and Ghufran Abudayyeh

Melissa Fleming, A Hope More Powerful than the Sea: The Journey of Doaa Al Zamel (New York: Flatiron Books, 2017), 288 pp.

Omar Dewachi, Ungovernable Life: Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017), xviii + 239 pp.

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, Sonita (Zurich: Xenix Film, 2015), 90 min.

Ron Bourke, Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience (Portland: Collective Eye Films, 2019), 36 min.

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Sébastien Roux and Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

En avril 2013, au paroxysme des tensions qui entourent l'adoption de la loi Taubira, Frigide Barjot, cheffe de file de la Manif’ pour tous, menace François Hollande de « sang » si la loi pour le mariage homosexuel est adoptée par l'assemblée. Christine Boutin, égérie des catholiques traditionnalistes, parle de « guerre civile » dans des tweets vengeurs. En quelques mois, des centaines de milliers de personnes descendent dans les rues pour manifester et contre-manifester. Moins de quinze ans après l'adoption du Pacs, on invoque à nouveau la République intemporelle et les principes révolutionnaires. On parle, la gorge serrée, de Marianne qu'on trahit. Derrière chaque contrat ou chaque gamète, c'est l'ordre social qui se joue, la République qu'on menace, le symbolique qui tangue… Au début des années 2010, devant les caméras éberluées du monde entier, la France montre à nouveau la place singulière qu'occupent les questions familiales dans le débat public.

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Marie-Luce Gélard

Abstract

This text touches on the consumption of dry or dried products from the point of view of valorization and dessication as a norm of the “good”. Dried foods are also those which can circulate in the intra- and extranational migratory contexts thus allowing the commonality of sharing in absence. They also allow us to establish a clear distinction between human foods and demonic foods. And at last, they are the only ones to possess healing powers in the universe of therapeutic rituals linked to alimentation.

Résumé

Ce texte propose d'aborder la consommation des produits secs et/ou séchés dans une perspective de valorisation de la dessiccation comme norme du « bon ». Les nourritures séchées sont aussi celles qui peuvent circuler dans le contexte migratoire intra et extranational permettant le partage au travers de la commensalité des absents. Elles permettent d'établir une nette distinction entre nourritures humaines et nourritures démoniaques. Enfin, elles seules possèdent des pouvoirs de guérison dans l'univers des rituels thérapeutiques liés à l'alimentation.

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Laura T. Di Summa

Abstract

This article investigates the relationship between philosophical accounts of criticism, largely within the analytic tradition, and the practice of criticism. Specifically, I am interested in the performative, subjective, and often idiosyncratic nature of such a practice and in the advantages it can deliver in the understanding of works of mass art, in the inquiry over the nature of aesthetic judgments, and in initiating aesthetic appreciation. Promoting such a connection is also, in turn, a way of at least partially bridging the divide between analytic approaches and the kind of work more typically conducted by scholars in film studies.