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Syria Studies, the official journal of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, provides “a space for scholars and students to publish work focused on the study of modern and contemporary Syria (history, politics, economy, & society).” It is meant to be highly interdisciplinary, and the editors encourage submissions from scholars in many different academic and professional backgrounds. The Board of Reviewers is a distinguished assemblage of scholars from universities, government departments, and institutes around the world. The journal is available in print and, since 2014, online, with selected earlier issues also available online.
The latest issue available at the time of this review, Volume 7, Number 1 (2015), is entitled, Sympathetic Stereotypes: The Syrian Uprising in Western Media and Scholarship. It begins with a Preface by Managing Editor Dr. Omar Imady which outlines the way in which the Syrian Uprising has been explored and represented by Western journalists and scholars. Then there are two articles, the first by Katty Alhayek: “"I must save my life and not risk my family’s safety!”: Untold Stories of Syrian Women Surviving War,” and the second by Billie Jeanne Brownlee: “The Revolution “From Below” and Its Misinterpretations “From Above” -- The Case of Syria’s Neglected Civil Society.”
The Alhayek article “provides several case studies of Syrian women whose lives were irreversibly changed as a result of the events that unfolded after March 2011. The stories of these women vividly illustrate how difficult it is to come up with a neat and easily accessible profile for the suffering of Syrian women.” Alhayek argues powerfully that “our understanding of the Syrian Uprising must be based on stories that are collected from below rather than on stereotypes imposed from above. In her article, Brownlee “reminds us that civil society in the Arab world in general, and in Syria in particular, was not born in the Arab Spring, and perhaps more important, it was not eliminated even after the Uprising evolved into an armed conflict. Through various case studies, Brownlee documents not only how well established the civil society experience in Syria was, but also how resilient it has been to the various attempts by both sides of the conflict to crush it.” The paper is extensively researched and documented.
Material here is timely and scholarly. Articles are available in PDF, and readers should select Full Screen Mode to read them, as the resolution in smaller views is not good. This title should be made readily available to all Middle Eastern scholars interested in the history, society, and culture of Syria and neighboring countries.