Alumnus Mohammad Magout presented a paper at the annual BRISMES conference hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), London. This year's conference, entitled Change and Continuity in the Middle East, was held on 11 June 2012.
BRISMES was established in 1973 to encourage and promote the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom by bringing together teachers, researchers, students, diplomats, journalists and others who focus on issues related to the Middle East.
Magout, who is from Syria, graduated from the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in 2010, where he completed his MA in Muslim Cultures. He is presently pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany where he is part of the inter-disciplinary research training group, Religious Non-conformism and Cultural Dynamics.
As part of the panel, Explaining Social Change Through the Lenses of Culture, Memory, and Symbols, Magout presented a paper on 'Cultural Dynamics in the Syrian Uprising'.
Abstract - Cultural Dynamics in the Syrian Uprising
Studies of Syrian politics have traditionally focused on the sectarian, military and, to a lesser extent, the economic foundations of al-Assad's regime. Few studies, however, have paid attention to the cultural basis of this regime and to cultural forms of resistance against it. Indeed, I would argue in my proposed paper, it was cultural factors that triggered the current uprising and helped sustain it. The shockwave caused by the fall of the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes in Tunisia and Egypt reached Syria in February and March 2011 transforming profoundly the way Syrians responded to very familiar and usual events, such as being humiliated by a police officer, from submissiveness to outright refusal. Building on Lisa Wedeen's examination of the cult of Hafiz Assad, I extend her analysis to his son's era including the recent uprising in Syria. I will try to show that her suggested 'tipping model', which states that Syrian people could be 'tipped' from obedience to rebellion through little acts of transgression, may shed important light on the course of events in the beginning of the uprising.
Mr Sohail Merchant