SSA Dissertation and Article Prizes 2016

The Prize Committee of the Syrian Studies Association is pleased to announce the prizes of the most outstanding dissertation and article. The committee considered dissertations completed between 1 July 2014 and 30 Jun 2016 and articles or book chapters published between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016. The committee was made up of Charles Wilkins (chair), Laura Ruiz de Elvira Carrascal, Hasan Kayali, Stephennie Mulder, Lorenzo Trombetta, and Tina Zintl.

Dissertation Prize

Stacy Fahrenthold, "Making Nations, in the Mahjar: Syrian and Lebanese Long-Distance Nationalisms in New York City, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires, 1913-1929," Ph.D. Dissertation, Northeastern University, 2014. In this ground-breaking dissertation, Professor Fahrenthold re-examines the role of emigré politics in the establishment of modern nation-states in the Levant. She charts the rise of transnational political institutions among Arabic-speaking Ottoman emigrants living in North and South America during and after World War One. Using a vast array of primary sources produced by these emigrants, including memoirs, letters, and periodicals, Professor Fahrenthold persuasively shows that emigrant populations played a fundamental role in the emergence of competing Arab, Syrian, and Lebanese nationalist movements in the Middle East. The first to envision a post-Ottoman future for the Levant, these emigrant activists formed associations, pursued partnerships with the Great Powers, and exerted effective pressure on the Great Powers as they negotiated the postwar settlement. The implications of this study extend beyond Syrian history as it compels a reassessment of the relative importance of emigrant activism in the making of modern nationalist movements.

Article Prize

Wendy Pearlman, "Narratives of Fear in Syria," Perspectives on Politics 14, 1 (March 2016), pp. 21-37. In this highly original and well-researched article, Professor Pearlman conceptualizes fear in order to narrate and understand the evolving behavior of Syrian citizens, first under government repression, then in conditions of civil disobedience, rebellion, civil war, and forced migration. Based on in-depth interviews with 200 Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Turkey, the article proposes a typology of political fear, showing how fear of government repression was normative and constitutive of one's national identity. In acts of opposition and resistance, however, this ethos of fear is disrupted with new forms of fear, having different objects and modes of action. Personal narratives, Professor Pearlman writes, not only reveal the various individual motives behind political disobedience, they interact and join to form collective narratives that, for Syrian citizens, make meaning of the past and the present. The article is enhanced by its concise state of the art discussion of studies on Syrian politics, highly informative appendices describing methodology, and accessible style. This article will have significance in the disciplines of political science and history as it offers rich and nuanced insight into how individuals respond to authoritarian government in conditions of both stability and instability

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