Research: To Strengthen the Culture of Knowledge\ Fifth Edition


This capacity-building programme aims to provide an opportunity for full-time commitment for Syrian and Palestinian- Syrian young researchers (22-40 years old) to research within the field of cultural studies. The programme seeks to enhance the researchers’ skills, giving them guidance and access to accomplish their research project (the programme will probably be their first such venture following their academic studies). Experienced cultural researchers, who constitute the Selection Committee of the programme, will directly supervise the projects.

 

The current edition of the programme’s annual course consists of three key phases

1) The application submission and the selection of young researchers: 2 months

2) Training and skill enhancement phase: 1 month

3) Completion of actual research supervised by experienced researchers: 6 months.

 

The programme will focus on current topics in cultural research that are relevant to the situation in Syria, especially changes in the perspectives of Syrian artists with regard to their relationship with society and the transformations it is witnessing.

 

What do we provide to the accepted Researchers?

  • A capacity building programme that lasts for the entire duration of the project
  • A Mentor specialized in the topic to guide the Researchers throughout the 6 months
  • A supporting grant of $2000 to write the paper
  • A $200 research stipend intended for academic material and useful references (books, articles etc)
  • Participation in conferences and talks at round tables and symposiums in the region
  • The opportunity to publish the research paper if it abides by the publishing criteria.

 

Researchers accepted under the fifth session are as follows:

Alina Oueishek: The Meaning of Home for Syrian Youth in Beirut

Young people who continued to live in shared apartments after graduating university was a rare, and largely unaccepted phenomenon, especially in cases where a young man and a young woman lived together. Later, this type of living became very common in Lebanon, after many young Syrians moved there.

Several factors affect the types of Syrian living customs in Lebanon, most notable of which is high rental rates, making it difficult for one person to pay the rent alone. The form of social life in Lebanon differs from that of Syria. Many young men and women moved to Lebanon without their families. This paper aims to identify the different forms of ‘liberal’ Syrian youth in Beirut, and find the reasons why, and the way in which, they were constructed. This is achieved through studying apartment selection standards, from choosing the neighborhood to its suitability to the desired lifestyle. The paper also studies types of social relationships within these apartments, especially among those who live in the same apartment.

 

Arwa Sharaf Al Dein: Geo-cultural Transformations of Cities: Case Study-Greater Damascus

Geo-culture of cities follows distinct patterns which reflect their material, intellectual, and social peculiarities. Cities are societies’ mirrors. They reflect its features, image, and social fabric through cultural influxes. This research paper focuses on the assessment of cultural behavior and the relationship between citizens and place in Damascus, the unique complexity of its geo-culture, and the spatial features of its cultural change. This is studied from the angle of three structural aspects. The first aspect is division. Cultural division is identified according to references of cultural links among city districts. The paper will examine the reasons why culturally isolated areas emerged, with social and class divisions. The second aspect is distance, which explores the effects of address change, through renting or owning, on the city’s patterns. The third aspect is density. It is an analysis of the geographical distribution of the city’s demographics, and its relationship with cultures of labour, education, and habitation. This aims to simulate the city’s cultural identity, and transforming data into a visual artwork using the tools of the Rhino Grasshopper software, with the ultimate goal of creating a geo-cultural map of Damascus.

 

Bassma Shaikho: Signs of War in Syrian Artists’ Work in 2011-2017

Critical research watches the artwork and its audience. It assumes that the artist has something to say through artistic expressions, and that the audience has something to say through critical reflections. This paper observes that dynamic in the times of war, through analyzing artworks and studying their signs and meanings, attempting to indicate how war has contributed to the shifting of art semiotics in a specific direction.

The paper tries to examine how independent artworks really are from the situation in which it was created. This is achieved through studying selected artworks, and the impressions and criticism they have generated, taking ideology into account, but going beyond it.

 

Dima Nachawi: Threads of Hope: Manufacturing Agahabani

The paper examines how cultural management of traditional handiwork industries can achieve a balance of preserving cultural and aesthetic standards while making profits from sale. The paper also studies the factors which influence traditional handiwork in times of war, with a focus on the effects of the political reality on cultural products and patterns. The paper also explores types of management currently employed in Syria for initiatives aiming to support Agahbani manufacturing, in projects created by individuals and NGOs. Have these initiatives improved the relationship between bosses and workers? Have they been able to contribute to a cultural product which, in turn, contributes to shaping the Syrian identity?

 

Ghaith Al Shaar: On the Cultural Backgrounds of Emerging Musical Identities in Syria

The partial openness Syria witnessed in the past decade allowed the emergence of music groups, who invested in the Syrian and Arab musical heritage. Their expressions, however, remained modernized by reproducing folklore songs and melodies within a Westernised harmony of mostly Western instruments. On the other hand, Syrian music groups are emerging in exile, creating a landscape which integrates with Western music genres.

The paper aims to trace the ways in which these music groups worked, through studying said genres. This is done to map Syrian modern music on the bases of musical analysis and social culture pertaining this phenomenon. Can such phenomenon be viewed as a continuation of the Syrian music production in the last decade? How is this music funded, and how does funding affect the product? How musically mature are these phenomena? Who is their audience? What is their relationship with their Western counterparts? The paper aims to examine the phenomenon through the questions above.

 

Hussam Al Hassoun: Syrian Turkmens in Turkish Exile: Problems of Cultural Identity After the Syrian Crisis in 2011.

The paper studies problems of cultural identity of Syrian Turkmens—an important cultural element in the Syrian society—and outlines their situation before the Syrian crisis of 2011. The paper studies the reasons why the majority of them were involved with the Syrian opposition, which led many of them to become refugees, especially from Aleppo and Lattakia, in Turkey. There, they had an important role as a bridge between Syrian and Turkish societies for linguistic, racial, and cultural reasons. Over time, it is noticeable that a large part of this activity is framed within a clearer cultural and racial identity, which raises the problem of belonging, especially among young Turkmens, considering that they are the most able to integrate in the Turkish society.

 

Maryam Samaan: The Role of Puppet Theatre as an Artistic Tool in the Cultural Change the Syrian Society is Undergoing

The paper aims to study the origins of making puppets for theatre, and their uses in society, while linking its challenges to historic changes. Puppet theatre has always been a free expression tool of different social and political themes through sarcasm. It also has its unique aesthetic value. With the difficulties and challenges Syrians face in adapting to living as refugees and integrating into new societies, many of them live out stories similar to fiction, both in form and content. This calls for reviving folklore narrations and stories, both written and oral, which contain our historical consciousness and almost extinct value systems. There is an urgent need for these stories to be re-rooted in children’s memories in such a manner as to suit their current living conditions. The paper also explores possibilities for developing puppet making into a profession that could make money for those who master it.

 

Mostafa Alskaf: Institutional Response to Management of Threats Posed to the Syrian Material Cultural Heritage

The paper attempts to analyze the performance of governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations, as well as local workgroups, in their response to, and management of, to threats posed to the Syrian material cultural heritage. This heritage has been subjected, for seven years, to numerous direct and indirect violations, including destruction, vandalism, and theft.

The paper examines the visions of these organizations to the reality of the Syrian material cultural heritage, their work mechanisms, and the implemented procedures. This is based on analyzing the strategies of examined organizations, as evident in their objectives, plans, projects, and assessment criteria. The analysis uses concepts pertaining to heritage sustainability from scientific and legal perspectives. As such, the paper examines these organizations' ability to face challenges and consider the changes taking place. The paper also aims to outline the main strategies and programmes implemented to mitigate risks and improve the relationship between the heritage and society.

 

Moustafa Suleiman: The Revolution’s Image in Syrian Theatre Over Six Years

The paper’s main question is whether the Syrian revolution can have an impact on the Syrian theatre productions from 2011 to this day, and if it can, how has the revolution been portrayed in said theatre productions?

The paper’s premise assumes that such impact has a different structure, which can be viewed as a shadow-structure of the current, displaced working structure. It is the same thematic structure of theatre productions had they been made at the same time, but as if the Syrian revolution never happened. As such, the paper examines the shift in the actual structure of theatre productions from the historical shadow-structure. The lack of such shift would indicate theatre-makers’ inability to keep up with the society under crisis.

 

Nour Abofarraj: The Social and Cultural Functions of Syrian Cuisine and Its Shifts in Times of War

The paper examines Syrian cuisine as a part of the immaterial cultural heritage for Syrians. It poses questions about the cultural significance and social functions of Syrian food. Additionally, the paper outlines change the Syrian cuisine has undergone due to economic, cultural, and social changes after the war. The irony is that Syrian kitchens, today, are almost completely devoid of traditional dishes, which cookbooks and social media pages praise, because they have become too expensive to make for a large segment of the population. Moreover, the paper also covers the migration of food, as refugees are beginning to make local traditional dishes in different countries around the world, and the temporary and permanent changes to the identity and rituals of these dishes.

 

Oula Sheikh Hassan: Syrian Handicrafts: A Way to Make a Living

Syrian handicraft heritage is rich and diverse. Due to the war in recent years, this heritage has undergone negative and positive impact, which affected the society.

The paper studies the history of handicrafts and recent changes it has undergone, in terms of labour, raw materials, product development, and marketing. The paper also outlines the reflections of negative and positive changes on the community, through interviews with workers, while focusing on how these handicrafts have become the primary, and sometimes the only, source of income for many women-supported families.

 

Rana Alsheikh Ali: The Militarisation of the Syrian Society: Manifestations and Effects on Society and Culture

The paper addresses the phenomenon of militarization of the Syrian society and its development, through describing it, identifying its manifestations, and analyzing its effects on society’s culture, values, and behavior. The paper analyses militarization as a complex phenomenon with political, economic, and social aspects which contribute to shaping the Syrian society’s culture and profoundly affects all aspects of social life. The paper aims to arrive at defining the role Syrian civil society should play to mitigate this phenomenon.

 

Sultan Jalaby: Ideolisation of Songs: Song Genres and Their Role in the Syrian Conflict

Since the Syrian uprising broke, and its evolution into a complicated international conflict, songs have been one of the conflict’s tools. The conflict produced several song genres which reflect competing ideologies in Syria. Syrian songs today can be categorized as revolutionary songs, jihadi songs, regime songs, and PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) songs.

The paper aims to examine these genres in a comparative study from four angles, namely a) the number of songs circulating in social media, b) analysis lyrics, c) analysis of musical keys and rhythm, and d) the deployment of songs by ideologues and their mobilization function.

The paper is expected to form a clear understanding of each genre’s characteristics, and functions within its respective ideological context and the broader context of local communities under influence of said ideologies. Through this, the paper will also explore value systems and conceptual tools for each ideology, which create the collective imagination of those following it.

 

Tala Al Shami and Lujain Halimeh: Cultural Investment of Industrial Heritage in Damascus: Case Study-Cement Factory

The cement factory in Dummar, Damascus an important symbol of Syrian industrial heritage, and a witness to decades of the city’s history, as well as cultural concepts which its population has been holding since its establishment.

After studies of some countries’ experiments with cultural investment of abandoned industrial facilities and using them for cultural activities, and after comparing some examples with the cement factory in Dummar; we found it necessary to arrive at foundations of the industrial heritage. As such, the paper focuses on examining the possible ways to document and preserve industrial heritage, as well as possible suggestions to reuse it in such a manner as to fulfil society’s cultural and economic needs in the future.

 

Zeina Shahla: Damascene Crafts in Times of War: Case Study – Textiles

The paper discusses how the war in Syria has been affecting traditional textile handicrafts which Damascus is known for, such as Damasco, Aghabani, Brocarre, Sayah, traditional customs, canvas handiwork, carpets, and natural silk. This is achieved through observing the negative impact of war, namely the destruction of manufacturing workshops, decline in tools, displacement of workers, and the changing labour relationships on all levels. These factors had an impact on teaching the craft to new generations and made securing raw materials more difficult, as well as undermined markets for sale. The paper also outlines the efforts made by workers and other stakeholders to preserve these crafts from disappearing.

 

The judges' panel was composed of Ms. Sarab Atassi, Mr. Farouk Mardam Bey, and Mr. Hassan Abbas. 

 

Key dates for the current edition

  • Training: exact date to be determined precisely later-on; potentially October/ November 2017
  • Submission of the final research proposal: two weeks after accomplishing the training
  • Period to complete the research: from the reception of the approval on the final proposal until the end of May 2018.

To download and read the English Booklet of Abstracts of the 5th Edition of our Research Programme, Click Here.

For the Arabic version, please click here.

To download the FAQs, please click below. 


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