Accepted Paper:

Civil society and uncivil times  

Author:

Brian Callan (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing upon insights from practitioners and scholars working in Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Romania, Calais & the US, this paper addresses non-violent, grassroots movements operating in spaces of repression and instrumental brutality in the ongoing transnational crisis.

Paper long abstract:

The beginning of this decade witnessed a wave of civil mobilization across the globe. Resistance to capitalist excesses, technocratic austerity and embedded authoritarian regimes, seemed to unite and inspire civil societies around the Mediterranean rim. There was hope and fear of radical change and talk of revolution on the streets and in academia. Five years later improbable alliances pummel Syria and Iraq. Brutal conflict forces millions to flee to nearby camps, across seas and along cold, distant back-roads. Right-wing sentiments close European borders and invoke states of emergency. Lethal terror claims sovereignty in the east and falls upon the citizens of Turkey, Beirut, Paris, and tourists from St. Petersburg. The corpses of children are washing up on the shore.

This paper offers insights on profound, uncomfortable and pressing questions addressed by practitioners and scholars from Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Romania, Calais, the US and Mexico, this paper brings nuanced detail to the simplified polarised proclamations which claim to define this complex, transnational crisis. With an emphasis on events around the Mediterranean rim, we ask how non-violent resistance resists instrumental brutality, and if it prevail? Can there be understanding between migrants driven by desperation, volunteers compelled by compassion, and local communities overwhelmed by a sea of need? How are antagonisms reinforced and restrained by local and distant events, technologies and institutions? Answers to these questions are as yet unknown, but clearly these are voices which must be heard.

Panel P003
Anthropologists between the Middle East and Europe: war, crises, refugees, migration and Islamophobia [AMCE]