Accepted paper:

Uncertain times made normal: revisiting perceptions of uncertainty in modern Syria

Author:

Dawn Chatty (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

A historical and anthropological study of Bilad al-Sham from the end of the Ottoman period to the present looking at the near-normal phenomena of living with political uncertainty from the closing days of World War I to the uncertainty of the late Asad era through a theoretical lens borrowing from Bourdieu.

Paper long abstract:

A historical and anthropological study of Bilad al-Sham (and what it encompassed in each era) from the end of the Ottoman period to the present looking at the near-normal phenomena of living with political uncertainty through a theoretical lens borrowing from Bourdieu. I propose to return to my set of 40 interviews conducted between 2005/2007 with the oldest living members of minority groups who settled in Bilad al-Sham at the close of WWI and compare and contrast these findings with a second set of interviews I conducted in 2009/2010 reflecting on life on in the 19930s, 1940s, 1950s 1960s and early 1970s in the making of the cosmopolitan quarter of Damascus, Sha'laan. These were periods of great political upheaval and uncertainty re the French Mandate,the establishment of the state of Israel, the short-lived republican era and finally the military dictatorship and a kind of certainty that followed. The present era is again uncertain and I propose to juxtapose my historical findings with reflections and anecdotal and unsystematic information gathered from colleagues, friends and family living regarding this new era of uncertainty in 2011/2012.

panel W015
Living uncertainty: navigating gray-zones of unreliable realities in the Middle East (EN)