Syria: between political catastrophe and cultural resilience – Karam Nachar

 

While the Syrian war seems to embody all that is complex, alien, and thus incomprehensible about the Middle East, the five-year-old brutal conflict can in fact be explained through a set of global historical factors that emanate from the world made by Europe in the wake of World War One. This talk will shed light on some of these global factors and their local manifestations, all while emphasising their inherently contradictory nature: destabilising Syrian politics to the point of disaster, while generating much cultural angst and productivity. More about the event.

Misreading Syria: Sectarian Secularism – Thomas Pierret

Persistent claims that the Syrian regime is “non-sectarian” result from a failure to distinguish between sectarianism as an explicit ideology, and sectarianism as an often unspoken technique of power. Whereas the Assad family has generally purported to act in the name of “national unity”, and accordingly minimised discursive expressions of sectarianism, its actual practices throughout the last five decades have consisted in the systematic manipulation of sectarian divides for the purpose of regime survival. More about the event.

The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution – Sana Yazigi


Sana Yazigi – Oslo, 26 September 2015

There is no political power without control of the archive, if not of memory. Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution, and its interpretation” Jacques Derrida

Since March 2011, Syria has witnessed deep cultural mutation; forms of expressions have evolved trying to respond to the eventful Syrian uprising. Artistic and cultural production have been a vital tool of political resistance, and so is archiving this production.

What is the Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution? What are the characteristics of ‘expression’ in times of tyranny and freedom? How do socio-political and cultural factors affect ‘expression’? How do we see the change on people’s ‘expression’ and behaviour since 2011? What would be the role of memory in the future? What is the link between justice and memory?

For more details about the event, please see this page.

Performing Democracy: Syrian Art Practices Today


Mohammad Al Attar and Zaher Omareen. Moderated by Rana Issa

Through their different media and production techniques, Zaher Omareen and Mohammad Al Attar will reflect on how democracy is performed in Syria today, and together with them we expect to question such stable constellations as artist, spectator, and stage. This line of questioning will bring us closer to Syrian artistic expression and will allow us to reflect on basic, and enduring concepts about the relationship of art to politics. More about the event.

Narratives of Survival – Marcell Shehwaro

 

This panel provides a general snapshot on life at the local level during the conflict in Syria. In between state-failure, war economy and a “conflict society”, triggered by the country’s dire humanitarian crisis, multiple actors have stepped in to fill in the void. These include Youth Networks, civil society organisations, Local Councils, Sharia-based institutions, Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party structures, and the jihadist groups, Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – ISIS). More about the event.

What Kind of Support Do Syrians Want?

Mohammad Al Attar, Rana Khalaf and Yassin al-Haj Saleh. Moderated by Ziad Majed.

How would we define the situation in Syria today? Are there still any revolutionary characteristics in the middle of the ongoing war and all regional and international interventions? Did the revolution manage to change something in the society? Can we talk about positive change when we are faced with the destruction we see in Syria today on all levels? What kind of support do Syrians living inside Syria, in refugee camps and in exile, want? More about the event.