The Syrian Oral History Project: Relevance, Approach, and Examples   
Date: 30 January 2018 Time: 04:00 PM - 05:30 PM  
Speaker(s): Associate Professor Uğur Ümit Üngör
Department of History
Utrecht University (The Netherlands)
Venue: MEI Conference Room, Level 6
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Block B #06-06
Singapore 119620




How do people experience mass violence? The Syrian civil war is an epic, bitter reminder of the profound relevance of this question. An unknown but undoubtedly large number of Syrians in the Europe have experiences with and memories of very serious violence – as victims, bystanders, and perpetrators. This research project proposes to document and research Syrians’ experiences of mass violence and the dynamic of the violent conflict in Syria. This ambitious project aims to interview as many people as possible in a strategic, scholarly and purposeful manner. At the same time it should be realistic in creating expectations, and ethically responsible in identifying and approaching interviewees and storing sensitive data. Documentation and research is useful for academic output in key research areas such as trajectories and political economies of violence, the ebb and flow of refugees, and the roles of economic inequality, poverty, climate change, identity, and religion in violent conflict. In fact, due to restrictions, prohibitions, and lack of access, never before has it been possible to study Syrian history in such a comprehensive manner. Beyond academia, this project would also be relevant in educating the broader public about these topics, and even for assisting investigations and prosecutions of crimes against humanity.


About the Speaker

Uğur Ümit Üngör is Associate Professor at the Department of History at Utrecht University and Research Fellow at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. His main areas of interest are state formation and nation formation, with a particular focus on mass violence. His most recent publications include Genocide: New Perspectives on its Causes, Courses and Consequences (Amsterdam University Press, 2016, ed.), Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (Continuum, 2011) and the award-winning The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is currently leading a large-scale research project on paramilitarism and writing a global history of the phenomenon.


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