MEI ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016   
Date: 01 September 2016 - 02 September 2016 Time: 09:30 AM - 04:00 PM  
Speaker(s): Various Venue: Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228221

 

Conference Statement

For Syria to have ended up in war as it did since 2011, there were many elements at play shaping the onset of these baleful events. This conference aims at providing a platform of discussion that may assist in understanding the roots and the dynamics of the ongoing conflict.

In the two-day event on 1st and 2nd of September 2016, scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds will discuss why and how Syria has gone from tenuous stability into a war-torn society. Since its cumbersome birth as an independent state, through the task of building development by socialist self-reliance, followed by the introduction of neoliberal reforms, Syria struggled to maintain a modicum of autonomy. From the reforms of its first democratically elected parliament in 1954, and throughout its era of economic dirigisme, Syria had evolved as a secular, relatively prosperous and economically self-reliant model. Starting from a low base, it had registered significant advances in conquering illiteracy, improving healthcare and other human development indicators under state-guided policies. 

In the late 1980s, Syria gradually embarked on the road to market-led development without ensuring the necessary institutional safeguards that would align economic with social goals. It was a costly mistake for a geostrategic country like Syria to let down its guard on the economic and social front. As soon as the ideological hegemony of Arab regimes over their states loosened at the start of the Arab Spring, the Syrian revolt was ignited and Syria has become the grounds for settling regional as well as international tensions.

Syria’s war has ravaged its citizens and its economic and social infrastructures, a significant part of humanity’s shared historical heritage and nature. Its refugee problem is one of the worst in recent history, with millions forcibly displaced. The grip of the Salafists on the opposition foreshadows a greater problem for states with pluralistic communities. Of course, no single academic discipline can fully explain the extent of this imbroglio. The Syrian case is overdetermined by a variety of interconnected elements that can be traced back to the start of the mandate period in the early twentieth century. Political Islam, Syria’s geostrategic position, the impact of climate change, the rural-urban divide, gentrification, socioeconomic considerations and political intransigence are some of the latent underpinnings of Syria’s downfall. These are issues that challenge the capacity of the received wisdom and to which this conference will attempt to make a contribution.

 

The following is the list of panel titles:

Panel 1: A History of Modern Syria

Panel 2: Macro Economy and Society

Panel 3: The Politics of Syria since 1946

Panel 4: Identity Politics and the Role of Religion in the Syrian Crisis

Panel 5: Livelihood and Food Security Assessment

Panel 6: The Syrian Humanitarian Crisis and its Global Impact

 

Click HERE  to access the Conference Programme.

Please email meiconf@nus.edu.sg for queries.



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