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Accepted Paper:

No time for hope? Dispossession, violence and temporality in Syria’s Afrin region  
Katharina Lange (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

Paper short abstract:

This paper maps forcible changes in land use and agriculture following the Turkish-led occupation of Afrin, Syria in March 2018. Tracing temporalizing effects of dispossession and displacement, it asks where the place of “hope” may be in this setting that is marked by violence and ongoing conflict.

Paper long abstract:

The occupation of Syria’s Afrin region by Islamist militias under Turkish control in 2018 has brought about far-reaching demographic change. Displacing a large part of the region’s Kurdish population, it brought an influx of Arabic-speaking settlers opposed to the Asad regime, many but not all of whom have been forcibly displaced themselves. In this borderland marked by past conflict and ongoing violence, future-making projects are deeply intertwined with despair, loss and dispossession experienced by the original inhabitants. In this region, agriculture and notably olive cultivation have long provided income, work, and stood for local and even ethnic identities. After 2018, among other transgressions, local farmers have been violently dispossessed by the seizing or “taxing” of the olive harvest and other crops; orchards have been damaged by grazing livestock, fruit trees have been cut and sold for firewood or uprooted and removed for infrastructural projects such as housing and industrial constructions. These dynamics have profound temporalizing effects, as the short-term profits made by dispossession and looting, but also the claims to future political and demographic domination expressed through construction, are juxtaposed to decades of past care invested in fruit trees and agriculture. Drawing from published reports and accounts on social media as well as conversations with (former) inhabitants of the region, this paper maps these violent changes before the backdrop of agrarian practices and social relations prior to 2018, and interrogates where the place of “hope” may be in this setting.

Panel P015
Salvaging Hope and Seeking Survival: Futurities in postwar borderlands and Broken Ecologies after wars
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -