The Syrian Revolution: A History from Below

12 Webinars, June 20-August 5, 2020

Syria has been the focus of much regional and global attention following the massive eruption of popular revolt in mid-March 2011. The Syrian revolution gradually developed into a war involving multiple local, regional and international actors. As a result, the revolution and its massive protest movement, as well as the resistance from below that have sustained them, has been mostly ignored or silenced. Hegemonic narratives centered around geopolitical rivalries and sectarian conflicts have dominated much of international and Western discourse stripping the Syrian popular classes of any social, political or revolutionary agency.

Against these narratives, the organizers of this webinar series propose a radically different approach. The Online Summer Institute titled “The Syrian Revolution: A History from Below” is a webinar series about grassroots politics, class struggles, and state violence in Syria since the 1970s up until the present. The 12-part series (June 20th – August 5th) includes presentations from activists, organizers, academics, and writers, who will discuss an array of topics ranging from grassroots movements, imperialism and anti-imperialism, political economy, international solidarity, feminist struggles, the prison system, healthcare weaponization, Palestinian solidarity, Kurdish self-determination, refugees, revolutionary art, and the future of the Syrian and regional uprisings (2011 and today). The Online Summer Institute highlights local struggles, lived experiences, and the expertise of Syrians with diverse backgrounds (political prisoners, doctors, activists, intellectuals, artists, students, refugees, academics, etc…). Participants will discuss the history of violence in Syria, the pitfalls of a besieged revolution, and the future of a country in ruins. We are proud to say that more than half of our panelists are Syrians. (More Syrian voices would have been included but that would have meant a longer webinar series and translation from Arabic, both of which would have postponed and extended the series further.)

This webinar will challenge the mainstream, orientalist, and manichean perspectives that have come to dominate narratives surrounding the events that have transpired in Syria since 2011. That includes a mainstream perspective that often ignores the revolutionary dimension of the revolt focusing instead on what it perceives and presents as “irrational violence”. This orientalist narrative reduces all struggles in the region to supposed millennium old conflicts between various sects, religions, tribes, and ethnicities. Left-wing orientalists, dismissive of any struggle that doesn’t speak the language of social movements in the West or that deviates from the Western history of labor organizing, are in turn complicit in this narrative silencing. The manichean or campist viewpoint we are combating suggests that the world is composed of imperialist and anti-imperialist countries and thus one need simply support so-called anti-imperialist countries while ignoring class conflict and state violence within those very same societies. Needless to say, all these narratives work to deny the role of the Syrian people as actors in their own popular struggle. The webinars propose an alternative to these hegemonic narratives; a people’s history of the Syrian revolution. This type of history provides an entry point to understanding the Syrian revolution, its popular protests and local struggles. The curriculum webinar will work to center the interests of popular classes, subjugated communities and marginalized groups while providing an alternative analysis of the revolution by emphasizing progressive and internationalist perspectives.

Program (June 20 – August 5th)
The links to the webinars will be posted below.

Webinar 1: Saturday June 20th @ 2pm EST
The Roots and Nature of the Syrian Revolution
Participants: Anand Gopal; Loubna Mrie, Yasser Munif
Moderator: Shireen Akram Boshar

Webinar 2: Saturday June 27th @ 2pm EST
Imperialism, Anti-Imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Participants: Lara el-Khateb, Ashley Smith, Yassin al Haj Saleh
Moderator: Nader Attassi

Webinar 3: Sunday July 5th @ 2pm EST
Feminist Politics and the Syrian Revolution
Participants: Razan Ghazzawi; Maria al-Abdeh; Ziva Gorani
Moderator: Frieda Afary

Webinar 4: Wednesday July 8th @ 2pm EST
From BLM to Palestine and Syria: The Politics of Revolutionary Solidarity
Participants: Khury Peterson-Smith, others will be announced soon

Webinar 5: Saturday July 11th @ 2pm EST
The Weaponization of Healthcare in Syria and Elsewhere
Participants: Omar Dewashi, Ossama Tanous, others will be announced soon
Moderator: Yazan al Saadi

Webinar 6: Wednesday July 15th @ 2pm EST
Capitalism and Class Struggle in Syria
Participants: Yassin al Haj Saleh, Myriam Ababsa, Jihad Yazigi
Moderator: Sara Dehkordi

Webinar 7: Saturday July 18th @ 2pm EST
From Syria to Mexico: The Fight for a World without Borders
Participants: Omar Dahi, Senay Ozden, Others will be announced soon
Moderator: Danny Postel

Webinar 8: Wednesday July 22nd @ 2pm EST
The Struggles for Kurdish Liberation in Syria and the Region
Participants: Ozlem Goner, Dlshad Othman,
Moderator: Thomas Schmidinger

Webinar 9: Saturday July 25th @ 2pm EST
Syria and the Second Wave of Middle Eastern and North African Revolutions.
Participants: Gilbert Achcar; Sara Abbas, Joseph Daher

Webinar 10: Wednesday July 29th @ 2pm EST
Jailed Revolutionaries: Resistance to Assad’s Carceral State
Speakers: Rateb Sha’bo, Jomana Hassan, and Sana Mustafa
Moderator: Razan Ghazzawi

Webinar 11: Saturday August 1st @ 2pm EST
The Revolutionary Carnival: Popular Arts and the Syrian Uprising
Participants: Sana Yazigi, Others will be announced soon
Moderator: Malek Rasamny

Webinar 12: Wednesday August 5th @ 2pm EST
Where Next for the Syrian Struggle
Participants: Ziad Majed, Karam Nachar,
Moderator: Wendy Pearlman

Posted on Alliance for Middle East Socialists June 2020

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