The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Syria: Revolution Between The ‘War On Terror’ And The ‘Refugee Crisis’

Start Date and Time:

Thursday, September 26, 2019, 6:30PM

End Date and Time:

Thursday, September 26, 2019, 9:00PM


Yassin Alhaj Saleh, Wendy Pearlman

Jens Hanssen (University of Toronto): Welcome & Introductory Remarks Yassin Elhaj Saleh (Wissenschaftskolleg-zu-Berlin): “The Syrian Revolution and the Genocratic Age”

The peaceful Syrian revolution of 2011 was slaughtered on the military and discursive altar of the war on terror. President Asad’s annihilationist responses and the internationalized civil war were made possible by a ‘genocratic’ turn – a combination of international political trends that have been on the rise since the end of the cold war. These trends, Yassin el-Haj Saleh argues, were consolidated by the permanent war on (Islamic) terror, crystallized in the ‘refugee crisis,’ and unleashed by the new xenophobia worldwide. In his talk, el-Haj Saleh floats the concept of ‘genocracy’. He zooms out of Syria and reflects on how this concept may offer an analytical key for understanding a new global, ethno-cultural form of majoritarian rule around the exclusion of immigrants and refugees from the national community of rights. El-Haj Saleh draws on his experience in Germany and Turkey but he is keen to learn about Syrian experiences with authorities in Toronto and about co-operations with indigenous groups and activists of color. He wants to encourage everyone to honor the Syrian tragedy by thinking critically about its global dimensions and by struggling for inclusive democracy in Syria and beyond.

Wendy Pearlman (Northwestern University): “The ‘refugee crisis’: a Kaleidoscope of Syrian perspectives”

Discussions of the ‘refugee crisis,’ itself a Eurocentric term, usually center on the experiences of Western countries when displaced peoples reach their borders. What does “refugee crisis” mean for refugees themselves, and especially for Syrians, who constitute the single largest national group among the record sixty-eight million people currently displaced worldwide?
Wendy Pearlman explores this question through interviews that she has conducted with more than 400 displaced Syrians across the Middle East and Europe from 2012 to 2019. Sharing excerpts from these testimonies, she considers how different individuals think about ‘refugee’ as an identity, explores how their evolving feelings of home, exile, and belonging, are linked or unlinked from place, and conceptualizes displacement as another stage in the search for dignity.

Q & A, moderated by Jens Hanssen


  • Syria Solidarity Collective

Contact Information

Jens Hanssen

Syria Solidarity Collective


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Image by Syrian visual artist Omran Narmo and evokes the destruction of Syria and the strandedness of its citizens
Image by Syrian visual artist Omran Narmo