Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
Much of the discourse on the long war in Syria has focused on the experiences of Syrians displaced by its violence and the untold forms of suffering they have endured both before and since leaving Syria for highly precarious lives and futures in places within and far beyond the region. The destructive violence of the conflict and how Syrians have coped with it, in short, has been the prevailing prism through which to understand the war. The question is begged: is there any other way to think about the war? In this paper, I use the cross-border taxi service between Syria and Beirut to broaden our understandings of the war by showing how certain navigations through a fraught geopolitical landscape are characterized by both risk as well as opportunity. In so doing, I join the efforts of others who argue that the effects of war can be more fully captured by approaching it as a social – or socioeconomic -- condition rather than as a violent one. For, across the Syrian warscape are vibrant sites of social change as wartime sets in motion not only new spatial migrations, but also new life ventures and projects. I also hope to disrupt the unidirectional (out of Syria) notion of mobility that has come to define the Syrian landscape by engaging a framework that accounts for other kinds of spatial movement. This framework allows me to explore instead the dialectical dynamics of displacement and emplacement that underpin the sociospatial navigation of war.