The Prison Narratives of Assad’s Syria: Voices, Texts, Publics (SYRASP)

The Prison Narratives of Assad’s Syria: Voices, Texts, Publics (SYRASP)

Bridging the disciplines of literary studies and cultural anthropology, SYRASP researches contemporary narratives, images, social media practices, and cultural practices related to incarceration and forced disappearance in Syria under the Assad regime (1970-present).

SYRASP builds on the extensive literary canon of Syrian prison narratives and their associated scholarship to reflect, in evolving collaborations with Syrian cultural producers, artists, and researchers, on the cultural, political, and ethical valences of creating, documenting, and archiving prison narratives today. With over 130,000 disappeared since the beginning of the revolution in 2011, Syrian cultural producers in exile engage prison and forced disappearance to make demands for accountability and against normalization with the Assad regime; to invoke memories of individual and collective survival under duress; and to form new communities in the present. Together, these practices gesture to more just futures for Syrians. They also form innovative new bonds of solidarity across national identities, connecting Syrian memories and contemporary politics into the diverse cultural spaces across the globe where Syrians live and act. 

SYRASP’s core methods incorporate dialogue with stakeholders in the Syrian cultural field and reflexivity on the position of academic research produced on Syrian literature and culture in English. Key publications from the grant will therefore include traditional academic genres (e.g., single-author articles and monographs) as well as interviews, dialogues, and reflections on the ethics of literary studies.

This project is a five-year investigation funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 851393), hosted by the Forum Transregionale Studien (Forum), and related to EUME.

Funded by:

 

SYRASP Team

Anne-Marie McManus

Principal Investigator
+49 (0)30 89001 424
anne.marie.mcmanus(at)trafo-berlin.de
More information

 

Eylaf Bader Eddin

Postdoctoral Researcher
+49 (0)30 89001 431
eylaf.bader.eddin(at)trafo-berlin.de
More information

 

Clara Abai

Student Assistant
+49 (0)30 89001 431
clara.abai(at)trafo-berlin.de

 

Wendy Pearlman

Ethics Advisor
Northwestern University
pearlman(at)northwestern.edu
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Nahed Samour

Ethics Advisor & DPO
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
nahed.samour(at)rewi.hu-berlin.de
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Christian Boulanger

Ethics Advisor & DPO
Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory
boulanger(at)lhlt.mpg.de
More information

 

Publications

Bader Eddin, Eylaf, Translating the Language of the Syrian Revolution (2011/12), De Gruyter, 2023.

Barakeh, Khaled and Anne-Marie McManus, VOCAL. On the MUTE Installation, in: Wolfgang Kaleck and Patrick Kroker (ed.): Syrische Staatsfolter vor Gericht. Syrian State Torture on Trial, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2023, pp. 122- 135 (Arabic version on pp. 96-109, German version on pp. 134-179).

McManus, Anne-Marie, Al-nuzuh: Displacement as Keyword, in: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 15:4, 8 November 2022, pp. 455-466.

Bader Eddin, Eylaf, Al-Abad: On the Ongoing, in: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 15:4, 8 November 2022, pp. 367-376.

McManus, Anne-Marie, Trauma and the 1980s in Arabic Literary Studies, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 9 June 2022.

McManus, Anne-Marie, Readings in Syrian Prison Literature: The Poetics of Human Rights. R. Shareah Taleghani (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2021), in: International Journal of Middle East Studies,53:4, 2021, pp. 705-707. (Book Review)

McManus, Anne-Marie, On the Ruins of What’s to Come, I Stand: Time and Devastation in Syrian Cultural Production since 2011, in: Critical Inquiry, 48:1, Autumn 2021, pp. 45-67.

McManus, Anne-Marie,Death is Hard Work: Insolvent Violence and the Persistence of Literature, in: Read Respond, July 2021.

McManus, Anne-Marie, Becoming Assemblies in Contemporary Syria, in: Books and Ideas, 22 February 2021.

News

Hannah El-Hitami on a SYRASP workshop:
Syrische Kultur in Deutschland: Töne der Menschlichkeit bewahren, taz.de, 08.08.2023.
Ex-Syrian Prisoners Reunite With Music as Their Balm, New Lines Magazine, 08.08.2023.
Repost on the TRAFO Blog on 24.08.2023

Episode of the Justice Visions Podcast on The Syrian Gulag: Reality and Narratives about the Prison System, hosted by Brigitte Herremans, guests: Artino, Jaber Baker, Uğur Ümit Üngör and SYRASP PI Anne-Marie McManus (30 June 2022).

Call for Expressions of Interest: SYRASP Working Group 2022-2023: Prison Narrative and the Archive

Call for Papers: Special Issue "Comparative Approaches to the Prison Literatures of the Middle East, North Africa, and Their Diasporas" of CLC Web (Comparative Literature and Culture), edited by Anne-Marie McManus (PI of SYRASP) and Brahim El Guabli (Williams College)

 

 

SYRASP Working Group 2022-2023 – Prison Narrative and the Archive

20 Oct 2022, 2-4 pm | Introductory Session

24 Nov 2022, 2-4 pm | Samad Alavi (University of Oslo): Lyric Testimony, Fictive Memory: Remembering and Forgetting the 1988 Prison Massacre in Iran

08 Dec 2022, 2-4 pm | Carceral Humanitarianism: A Discussion of the Film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, moderated by Basit Iqbal (McMaster University)

16 Mar 2023, 2-4 pm | Nour Al-Halabi (American University of Beirut): Archives of the Disappeared, Made Visible Again

27 Apr 2023, 2-4 pm | Adélie Chevée (European University Institute, Geneva): Narratives of Imprisonment in Syrian Protest Archives

11 May 2023, 2-4 pm | Yasmin Kherfi (London School of Economics): Collective Memory at the Margins: The Struggle Against Forced Disappearance in Transnational Perspective

15 Jun 2023, 2-4 pm | Gizem Sivri (Freie Universität Berlin / Stanford University): Tracing Ottoman Prison Reform (1840-1918): Failed or Achieved?

13 July 2023, 2-4 pm | Gasser Abdel-Razeq & Rim Naguib (Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME Fellow): Sign al-Nisa: A Conversation About Experiences of Women in Egypt's Prisons, Past and Present

14 Sep 2023, 2-4 pm | Charlotte Al-Khalili (University of Sussex): Ethnographic Explorations of the Syrian Revolution and its Carceral System: Methodological Challenges and Theoretical Propositions

12 Oct 2023, 2-4 pm | Reading Session (texts by Fadi Bardawil)

14 Dec 2023, 2-4 pm | Reading Session (texts by Ayah Kutmah, Tamar Ghabin, Basil Farraj and Hasem Abushama)

01 Feb 2024, 2-4 pm | Discussion of Stéphanie Latte Abdallah's book A History of Confinement in Palestine: The Prison Web

29 Feb 2024, 2-4 pm | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP Postdoc): Imagined Syrian Prison Songs

28 Mar 2024, 2-4 pm | Tadmor, film discussion with Monika Borgman (UMAM Documentation & Research)

18 Apr 2024, 2-4 pm | Yasmine Kherfi (London School of Economics and Political Science): Translating Revolutionary Aftermaths into Cultural Production

16 May 2024, 2-4 pm | Reading Session (Mamdouh Adwan's حيونة الإنسان)

30 May 2024, 2-4 pm | Reading Session (Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime by Dylan Rodriguez)

20 June 2024, 2-4 pm | Nour-Sadate Benhima (Sultan Moulay Slimane University): Between Bars and Borders: Anglophone Syrian Memoirs of the 2011 War as (Other) Archives

Description of the Working Group

Please register in advance via syrasp(at)trafo-berlin.de.

SYRASP Events

2024

17 Jan 2024 | Elise Daniaud Oudeh: Russian Social Media at War: The Battle of Aleppo in the Eyes of Russian Military Correspondents, 2015-2017, chair: Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of the EUME Berliner Seminar, Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany.

 

To learn more about events of previous years, click on "read more".


2023

1 Dec 2023 | Book Launch "Syrian Gulag: Inside Assad's Prison System" with the authors Jaber Baker and Uğur Ümit Üngör, moderated by Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) and Stella Peisch (MENA Prison Forum), part of the conference Understanding Prison: Carceral Culture and Human Rights in the MENA Region (30 November - 2 December 2023), HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, Germany. [POSTPONED]

30 Nov 2023 | Music performance Music as Resistance: Performing Songs from Sednaya Prison in Syria (1980s–1990s) of former political prisoners Hassan Abdulrahman, Ibrahim Bayrikdar, Kesra Kurdi, Assad Shalsh and Haitham Qatrib, with an introduction by Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of the conference Understanding Prison: Carceral Culture and Human Rights in the MENA Region (30 November - 2 December 2023), HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, Germany. [POSTPONED]

26 Oct 2023 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Dialogues With Abjected Bodies: Negotiating Syria in/and Europe After 2015", part of Reimagining Europe from Its Peripheries: A virtual conversation.

29 Sep 2023 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "In the Aftermath of Prison: Transformations of the Body on Azza Abo Rebieh's Art", part of the conference Woman, Life, Freedom: A Global Gender Protest (29-30 September 2023, University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA).

28 May 2023 | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP): "Syrian Prison Songs: Emerging Prison Song in Prison and Exile", part of the 6th Conference Producing Critical Knowledge in the Arab Region of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (25-28 May 2023, Beirut).

10 May 2023 | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP): Musical Remains and Songs in Syrian Prisons and Exile, part of the EUME Berliner Seminar,Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany.

09 Mar 2023 | Panel A Vocabulary in Upheaval: Keywords in Contemporary Syrian Political Culture with Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), organized by the Middle East Center, London School of Economics, UK.

25 Jan 2023 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Representing Siege: Cultural Production Between Prison and the Massacre", part of the International Symposium L’histoire et la mémoire à l’épreuve de la révolte et de la guerre en Syrie, organized by SHAKK De la révolte à la guerre: conflits, déplacement, incertitudes (25-27 January 2023, Beirut, Lebanon).

25 Jan 2023 | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP): "Syrian Prison Songs: Emerging Prison Song in Prison and Exile", part of the International Symposium L’histoire et la mémoire à l’épreuve de la révolte et de la guerre en Syrie, organized by SHAKK De la révolte à la guerre: conflits, déplacement, incertitudes (25-27 January 2023, Beirut, Lebanon).

 

2022

30 Nov 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) and Khaled Barakeh: "Embodying Memories of Protest in the MUTE Installation: Collaboration and Translation", part of the conference SWANA from Below: Living, Enduring, and Remembering its Revolutions (30 November - 2 December 2022, Florence, Italy).

26 Nov 2022 | Panel "Artistic Production and Creativity in Times of War" with Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of Territory Disrupt: On Resistance and Cultural Imperialism (25-26 November 2022, Berlin).

17 Nov 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Syrian Prison Narratives", part of the event series Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education (17 November 2022, Bard College Berlin).

14 Oct 2022 | Panel "Prison Literature, Music, Heritage" with Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) and Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of the conference Prisons Beyond Punishment: Exploring Political Technologies of Confinement (12-14 October 2022, Gießen, Germany).

6-7 Oct 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) and Jaber Baker: "Literature and/as Material Practice: On the Making, Circulation, and Reading of a Journal Inside Palestine Branch", part of the workshop Who Reads Modern Arabic Literature? (6-7 Oct 2022, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany).

1 Oct 2022 | "After the Last Supper", closing event of the exhibition Design of Necessity by Khaled Barakeh with Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) as a speaker (1 October 2022, Mariakirken, Copenhagen, Denmark).

28 Sep 2022 | Roundtable Discussion "International Scientific Cooperation in Times of Violent Upheaval: Political Problems and Ethical Perspectives" with Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of the Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung "Nach der Norm: Musikwissenschaft im 21. Jahrhundert" (28 September - 1 October 2022, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany).

10 Sep 2022 | Panel "Research and Journalism in Exile" with Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP), part of the conference Free to Think? Challenges for Academia and Journalism, organized by the Zeit-Stiftung (9-10 September 2022, Vienna, Austria).

22 Jul 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Affect in Syrian Prison Narratives", part of the workshop Beyond the Street: Cultural Forms of Contemporary Protest in the MENA Region, organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of University of Bamberg (22-23 July 2022, Bamberg, Germany).

22 Jul 2022 | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP): "Singing Power(s): the Case of the Syrian Revolution 2011/2012", part of the workshop Beyond the Street: Cultural Forms of Contemporary Protest in the MENA Region, organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of University of Bamberg (22-23 July 2022, Bamberg, Germany).

12 Jul 2022 | Eylaf Bader Eddin (SYRASP): "Singing for Female Survivors of the Death Branch 215 in Syria", part of the Interdisziplinäres literaturwissenschaftliches Kolloquium, MARA, University of Marburg, Germany.

29 Jun - 01 Jul 2022 | Workshop The Literary 1980s in the Middle East and North Africa: Towards A Transregional History of the Present, convened by Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP) and Amir Moosavi (Rutgers University—Newark / EUME Fellow 2016/17), Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany.

19 - 25 Jun 2022 | Summer School "La Syrie au prisme des sciences sociales après 2011", with participation of Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP), organized by SHAKK De la révolte à la guerre: conflits, déplacement, incertitudes (19-25 June 2022, Aussois, France).

16 Jun 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Staying Present to Apocalypses: The Grounds and Politics for an Ecocritical Theory of Arabic Literatures", part of the virtual Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association 2022 (15-18 June 2022).

13 Jun 2022 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Writing Under Duress / in Prison", part of the virtual DREAM seminar 2022 The Script of Revolt: Writings, Consignments, Transcriptions in Worlds in Revolution.

04 Jun 2022 | Readings of Syrian women, moderated by Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP), part of the opening of Khaled Barakeh's exhibition Design of Necessity (4 June 2022, Mariakirken, Copenhagen, Denmark).

20 May 2022 | Panel "Futurity in History" with Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP), part of the symposium The Future in Arab Media and Cultures (20 May 2022, London School of Economics, UK).

 

2021

13 Dec 2021 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Contemporary Carceral Knowledge Production Between Syria and the EU", part of the workshop Theorizing in a Global World: Arab Perspectives (online/Arab-German Young Academy, Berlin, Germany).

09 Dec 2021 | "Syrian Gulag: Assad’s Prisons, 1970-2020: A Conversation with Uğur Ümit Üngör & Jaber Baker", with a comment by Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP); part of the MENA Prison Forum Talk Series.

11 Nov 2021 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Cigarette Packs and Blanket Threads: The Case for Making a Journal in Prison", part of the international online workshop The Journal as Form: Re-Thinking Approaches to the Study of Arabic Periodicals (11-13 November 2021), convened by Barbara Winckler (University of Münster), Anne-Marie McManus and Yvonne Albers (EUME Fellow 2021/22 / University of Marburg).

30 Oct 2021 | Anne-Marie McManus (PI SYRASP): "Beyond Prison Literature: Sound, Media, Generation", part of the panel "Carceral Mediations" of the ASAP/12 Virtual Conference on Reciprocity (27-30 October 2021).