Future Alternatives: Syrians in Exile and the Call for Dignity
My research seeks to unearth the political projects of the 2011 Syrian uprising and to trace their trajectories in exile today. The uprising was a moment that opened up new future horizons for Syrians in their calls for ‘freedom, justice and dignity.’ Yet the trajectory of the “impossible revolution”—as the Syrian intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh named it (2017)—seems to have taken the futurity, once again, out of the future for many Syrians. Conducting ethnographic research among ‘the generation of the uprising’ and an older generation of (former) Syrian Marxists who took part in the uprising and currently reside in Berlin, I explore the foreclosures of the 2011 possibilities, and the concept of dignity around which the optimism and the initial demands of the uprising have been framed. Situating the political possibilities opened up the by the Syrian uprising in a global context of social uprisings, my project examines the political conjuncture to which dignity became an answer, and explores how the concepts, affects and political tools that have emerged from the uprising and its exiles open the possibility for new ways of thinking future alternatives. In doing so, I ask: is it possible to think revolution and social change outside the Marxist understanding of capturing state power, or the liberal language of rights and the notion of progress?