This seminar series is dedicated to the unfolding conflict and human catastrophe in Syria. The Syrian conflict started in 2011 as a popular and pacific uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Asad. It mutated into an armed conflict between numerous opposition armed groups and the Asad regime. External actors have since started to intervene, either directly in support of the Damascus regime, or indirectly in support of some of the very diverse armed groups of the opposition. Since Russia stepped directly onto the military scene in 2015, the conflict has entered a new phase, characterised by the central role played by external powers in propping up the Asad regime, and the sidelining of all peace talks and other political processes. The Syrian population is bearing the brunt of this conflict. Estimates vary as to the number of civilian deaths directly linked to the conflict, but they could reach more than 300,000. Poverty affects four in five Syrians. This seminar series aims to shed light on different aspects of the Syrian conflict in order to provide a better understanding of it. It also discusses the consequences of the situation in Syria for the international community, for humanitarian organisations, but also for the legal infrastructures put in place since the Second World War with regard to international humanitarian laws, human rights, and refugee protection.
The seminar series is supported by the Maison Française d’Oxford.
Laura Ruiz de Elvira Carrascal earned a PhD in Political Science at the EHESS (Paris) and the UAM (Madrid) in 2013. Her dissertation, Associations de bienfaisance et ingénieries politiques dans la Syrie de Bachar al-Assad: Émergence d’une société civile autonome et retrait de l’Etat? (Charities and political engineering in Bashar al-Asad’s Syria: the rise of an autonomous civil society and the retreat of the state?), for which she was awarded The Syrian Studies Association’s 2014 Dissertation Prize, analyses the political engineering of Bashar al-Asad’s regime through the prism of charitable action. Dr Ruiz de Elvira has written numerous papers in French, English, and Spanish on the Syrian civil society and charitable actors, on the Syrian authoritarian system of rule and, more recently, on the Syrian uprising. Amongst them are: The End of the Ba’thist Social Contract in Bashar al-Asad’s Syria: Reading Sociopolitical Transformations through Charities and Broader Benevolent Activism (IJMES, 46-2, May 2014) and Civil Society and the State in Syria: The Outsourcing of Social Responsibility (Lynne Rienner, March 2012), both co-authored with Tina Zintl. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the ERC/CNRS project WAFAW (www.wafaw.org) and based at the L’Institut de recherches et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulman – IREMAM (iremam.cnrs.fr).