Panel: Mobilising in Exile – Syrian Refugee and Diaspora Mobilisation

After five and a half years of conflict, the situation in Syria is worsening: there is increased fighting and violence on the ground and no clear road map to peace. More than five million Syrians have fled their country to seek safety in neighboring countries and beyond. How do these exiles mobilize for political change in their home country? What are the responses of host states as well as the homeland to such mobilization?

Maja Janmyr will explore homeland engagement among Syrian refugees in Lebanon while Espen Stokke discusses Syrian diaspora mobilization in the UK and US. Emma Jørum shares her research on homeland response to anti-regime mobilization among Syrians in Sweden. Discussant at this event will be Are Knutsen.

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 Maja Janmyr is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Faculty ofMaja Janmyr Law, University of Bergen. Her research interests include issues of international law – in particular socio-legal and critical approaches to international refugee- and human rights law.  She is currently (2015-2019) researching refugee rights in the context of Syrian displacement in the Middle East.  Her previous research includes rights mobilization among Nubians in Egypt, and readmission agreements and return policies in the European context. Her PhD thesis focused on the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) human rights obligations in refugee camps and avenues for accountability under the international laws of responsibility.

Espen Stokke has earned a Bachelor degree inScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 13.49.56 Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. In the Spring of 2013, he attended the Foreign Policy courses in the Washington Semester Program at American University where he developed an earnest interest in the plight of the Syrians. Currently, he is finishing his Masters in Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen with a research focus on the Syrian diaspora. He is also a research student at the Christians Michelsen Institute. Spring of 2015 and 2016, he worked as an Educational Assistant in the Political Mobilization course at his university and has taken summer courses at SOAS, University of London, in beginner’s Arabic and in Government and Politics of the Middle East. These experiences put together helped guide him in his research endeavor about the Syrian diasporic mobilization in the US and the UK, which is the topic for his current Master’s thesis. As for his Bachelor’s paper, he compared the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency in 1979-1982 with the Syrian uprising of 2011.  He is also interested in expanding his knowledge on governance, conflict and security, and the Middle East.

Emma Lundgren Jörum is a political scientist with a EmmaJ%c3%b6rumresearch focus on Middle Eastern borders and migration. She currently works as a coordinator for refugee school children in Uppsala, Sweden. She remains affiliated to the Department of Government, Uppsala University, where she defended her PhD thesis in 2011. Publications include The choice and the Way: an in-depth interview study with recently arrived Syrians in Sweden (Report 2015:8, The Migration Studies Delegation, Ministry of Justice, Stockholm 2015), Repression across Borders: Homeland Response to Anti-regime Mobilisation among Syrians in Sweden (in Diaspora Studies Journal, 2014), and Beyond Syria´s Borders: A History of Territorial Conflicts in the Middle East (I. B. Tauris: London, 2014).

Are John Knudsen is a senior researcher at the
Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) specialising on post-civil war Lebanon. His research interests include urban refugees, forced migration and communal conflict. He has published articles, special journal issues and edited books on these topics including
Palestinian Refugees: Space and Place in the Levant (Routledge, 2011) and Lebanon: After the Cedar Revolution (Hurst, 2012). His current research explores the convergence of the Palestinian and Syrian refugee crises in urban camps and squatters in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre.