Syrian creative resistance https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/17695/all cached version 25/01/2018 00:37:01 en Syrian activists are repairing the fabric of civil society, even as it comes undone https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/hania-mourtada-penny-green/syrian-activists-repairing-fabric-of-civil-society-even-as-it-comes-undone <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Syria has seen the emergence of a powerful culture of resistance, from subversive graffiti to makeshift hospitals, which continues to operate despite the violent and politically fractured terrain.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><br /><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5386968.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/5386968.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demotix/Jacob Simkin. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>With the advent of the Syrian uprising in 2011, the monopoly over political truth-telling shifted away from the established dissident man of letters, whose voice remained largely silent in the context of the revolution. Instead, it fell to the average Syrian, who has no impressive credentials to speak of, but is in possession of a laptop and a strong desire to transgress the arbitrary red lines drawn by the Syrian authoritarian regime. </p><p dir="ltr">When Bashar al-Assad took over the reins, the proliferation of cultural spaces operated as a safety valve that served to contain dissidence rather than to encourage it. An evident complaisance settled in; the emergence in the public sphere of poetry clubs functioned as an outlet for dissidence. For example, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/world/middleeast/20poetry.html?_r=0">Bayt al-Qasid</a>—the House of Poetry<span>—</span>a platform for young poets, used to host weekly readings before the uprising, but it was constantly under the surveillance of the "mukhabarat" (the security services). </p><p dir="ltr">This all changed the day Syrian masses took to the streets to protest against Assad’s oppressive regime. Since the popular uprising erupted, there has been an extraordinary move to reclaim the field of dissident cultural production initiated by civil activists. The <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/09/20139784442125773.html">nascent freedom movement</a> that burst onto the scene in liberated towns in 2011 rid itself of all ambiguity and symbolism in the manner it now criticises power. Syrians no longer need to resort to metaphorical and opaque language in order to subvert or mock authority.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">Syrians no longer need to resort to metaphorical and opaque language in order to subvert or mock authority.</p><p><span>Euphoric </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXfC3Ei575Q">crowds</a><span> took to the streets to chant their demands. The uprising revolutionised the field of political truth-telling, and </span><a href="http://badael.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Activism-in-Difficult-Times.-Civil-Society-Groups-in-Syria-2011-2014.pdf">civil society groups</a><span> began to proliferate at an astonishing speed. What is perhaps most notable about the new civil society is its portrayal of the regime’s power as surmountable. The very presence of these groups on Syrian soil demystified the whole experience of oppression, imprisonment and torture in Syria. The usual sense of resignation and passive resistance, characteristic of prison narratives in the Assad era, were suddenly supplanted by a defiant spirit and 'triumph against all odds' rhetoric. </span></p><p><span>The grim, metaphorical truth-telling of 80s and 90s Syria was gradually replaced by a more optimistic, forward-looking language. Perhaps such a suddenly altered ethos, which no longer simply sought to expose and resist power but also to overcome it, was testament to the new political spirit characteristic of the Syrian uprising.</span></p><p><span>In the anonymous text "</span><a href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/2328/fear-of-arrest">Fear of Arrest</a>"<span>, having exposed the regime's power as surmountable, the revolutionary finds that he has entered the realm of 'realism' in the way he writes his experience: power can now be discussed as something banal. The anonymous writer then helps the reader demystify the prison experience. Remembering political violence is no longer enough<span>—</span>the way it used to be in traditional Syrian prison narratives. One must mock it, resist it, and overcome its mechanism. Hani Sayed, the translator of the text, informs us that:</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><blockquote><p><span></span><span>“The author of the following text is anonymous. But his deeds have&nbsp;</span><span>rocked the foundations of our world in Syria. He is one and he is everyone. I don't know his whereabouts...The text is written in colloquial Arabic. I could tell that he is probably in his early twenties with a clear Aleppo accent. The text has this ordinary, almost technocratic, quality that makes it extra-ordinary considering the circumstances. It is not written for political propaganda. It does not theorise, it does not make too many claims, it is not poetic, or confessional. The author addresses his "buddies" to neutralise the effect of a paralysing fear of arrest that may have made some of them too cautious to participate in demonstrations. The rhetorical posture is descriptive. His goal is to demystify the experience of arrest as an antidote to fear. The premise of the text is that his destined reader should expect arrest and torture, and should therefore stop wasting time to avoid it. The fact that one is arrested has nothing to do with the relative strength of the Mukhabarat. It has also little to do with how cautious you are. A revolution is taking place, and if you are there in the regime's field of projections of power, arrest is a matter of time<span>—</span>an absurd game of probabilities. Knowing what an arrest entails will make it more bearable, and the fear of it less debilitating.” ( Sayed, August 2011).</span></p></blockquote><p><span>Sadly, the international community has largely forsaken this freedom movement. Syrian civil society has been marginalised in international deliberations over the conflict, replaced by a binary discourse in which the conflict is reduced to one between Assad and ISIS. &nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span>To remedy that state of affairs, we have established </span><a href="http://on.planetsyria.org/">Planet Syria</a><span>, a network that includes over a hundred Syrian civil society groups, in order to make our voice heard again.</span></span></p><p><span>The power of the state has already been contested, and we’ve seen the emergence of a powerful culture of resistance which continues to operate despite the violent and politically fractured terrain. When the uprising erupted, political truth-telling emerged out of the shadows and boldly re-entered the public sphere. People who once operated in underground meetings are now establishing organisations in broad daylight. In every town or village that fell out of Assad’s control, small civil society groups are working tirelessly to lay the foundations for democracy, justice and a pluralistic society.</span></p><p><span>Young people, in particular, are determined to show the world that they can build solid institutions from scratch and reinstate order in opposition-controlled towns. </span><a href="http://www.women-now.org/">Centres</a><span> concerned with women’s rights and women’s well-being have opened their doors, offering language courses to illiterate women and useful marketable skills to the young. Subversive graffiti, revolutionary pamphlets, magazines and radio stations, groups offering psycho-social support and makeshift hospitals are all initiatives made possible by Syria’s new and burgeoning civil society. Syrians are </span><a href="http://www.occupiedkafranbel.com/">experimenting</a><span> with what might be made possible. Areas that the regime has lost are filled to the brim with possibilities.</span></p><p><span>People eager to reinvent their towns and cities are working hand in hand. And in the midst of all this, the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE68wf2Qimg">barrel bombs</a><span> keep falling.</span></p><p><span>It’s true that many of the groups cited saw their work impeded by extremist militias and the warlords who rose to power overnight such as the infamous Zahran Alloush, head of the Army of Islam. But the main impediment and biggest threat to civil society in Syria today is the indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime, especially the aerial onslaught with barrel bombs.</span></p><p><span class="print-no mag-quote-left">Only Syrian civil society offers a clear alternative to collapsing state institutions.</span></p><p><span>It is no surprise that the Syrian regime wants to push these civil groups outside the country. The biggest threat to the regime today is from the progressive culture of political-truth telling embodied in newly empowered civil society. Only Syrian civil society offers a clear alternative to collapsing state institutions.</span></p><p><span>Syria’s most promising future could, without &nbsp;doubt, emerge from these grassroots initiatives, instated and reinstated by unwavering activists in the face of a multitude of challenges. If the liberated territories which saw the emergence of these groups were to be given total protection, with anti-aircraft defences, from Assad’s daily onslaught of barrel bombs, this base would start to flourish, refugees would return and an alternative order to that of Assad would quickly emerge. </span></p><p><span>But, for now, the bombs continue to bury people under the fragments of their destroyed neighbourhoods. And if the world defiantly continues to insist that what is happening in Syria is too complex, too confusing, no one can blame the revolutionaries for this lack of clarity for they have obsessively documented every infringement on their basic rights in front of a largely apathetic audience.</span></p><p><span>Without advocacy and hard-headed activists, many of Assad’s inhumane practices would continue unchecked and </span><a href="http://syrianobserver.com/EN/Who/29781/Who_Who_Zahran_Alloush">corrupt warlords</a><span> would be free to go on accumulating moral capital without scrutiny. Building a constructive rapport with key actors in our global society, and allowing them to participate in the change they wish to see, is the first step toward encouraging people to become more involved in issues of democracy and justice. </span><a href="https://www.planetsyria.org/en">Planet Syria</a><span> was established to facilitate dialogue between the most prominent civil society groups in Syria and the international community.</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/1996323.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/1996323.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demotix/Majid Almustafa. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Total collapse of state services in certain provinces has paved the way for&nbsp;</span><span>experimenting with </span><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-self-government-revolution-thats-happening-under-the-radar-in-syria/2015/07/26/05cffade-313e-11e5-8353-1215475949f4_story.html">self-governance</a><span>. In those areas, civil society is not just protesting against the regime, it is also resisting radical Islamists, the corruption of local militias and ISIS. This new culture of resistance and political truth-telling cannot now be eradicated unless a large-scale massacre permanently wipes it out of existence. And this may very well be what Assad is striving for with his unguided indiscriminate bombs. </span></p><p><span>No one can guarantee that good impulses will win the day, but the world can do a great deal more to recognise and protect those impulses and the communities from which they derive.</span></p><p><span>Remarkable individuals in Syria have clung to the integrity of their initial struggle for democratic change and social justice even as the fighting has descended into sectarian and increasingly violent chaos. It is the voice of those civil activists trying to maintain a rapport with dangerous armed groups, in order to check their power and shape their code of conduct, that we need to listen to and amplify.</span></p><p><span>What is striking about coverage of the Syrian crisis is that, with a few notable exceptions, it seems to draw neat lines between communities, socio-economic classes, and sects while ignoring the processes of entanglements. We rarely see any accounts of the rapport civil rights activists are attempting to build with armed groups, and the delicate symbiosis that has allowed civilians and fighters to carry on side by side. </span></p><p><span>Systematic </span><a href="https://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/">documentation</a><span>, verification and the compulsive recording of atrocities will ensure that civil society groups are not roughly pushed aside once the state and the insurgency are ready to meet at the negotiating table.</span></p><p><span>The everyday struggles of civil society groups will pave the way for institutional transformation from within destitute communities.</span></p><p><span>Today, Syrian civil society groups desire and demand attention from the international media. </span><a href="http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/11/syrias-conflict-told-through-a-caustic-wit/">Kafranbel</a><span>, a small town in Idlib, has garnered fame through its media-savvy slogans and leaflets which provide witty commentary on global events and popular culture. Those Syrians are begging to be noticed and supported in their journey from their former selves as passive subjects of an authoritarian state to self-actualised citizens in charge of their destiny.</span></p><p><span>We are tired of foreign </span><a href="http://on.planetsyria.org/seamus-milne-are-you-serious/">commentators</a><span> projecting tired and well worn assumptions onto the uprising<span>—</span>warning that any intervention by the international would encroach on Syria’s national sovereignty. We are tired of being warned that so-called political engineering by the west will achieve nothing beyond exacerbating sectarian and ethnic cleavages.</span></p><p><span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Where are all those journalists who once attempted to convey the pulse of the Arab street?</span></p><p><span>This young generation’s anticipation of the challenges ahead demonstrates a striking awareness of the dark forces that could sabotage the freedom movement.</span></p><p><span>This new movement is driven by a newfound dignity and a </span><a href="http://therevoltingsyrian.com/post/45683203092/hand-in-hand-we-will-rebuild-from-bustan-al">shared sense of citizenship</a><span>. While the mainstream media chooses to fixate on military developments, Syrian civil society is building a network of resistance in the shadows. Analysts have reiterated time and again that there is no foreseeable military solution to the conflict yet the world continues, obsessively, to monitor military gains and losses by the plethora of armed parties taking part in the conflict.</span></p><p><span>Is it so inconceivable, to the international community, that most Syrians have been organising along common interests rather than tribal and kinship ties? The idea that ‘interfering’ in a situation as complex as Syria’s could cause further harm to the country presupposes that the west is approaching a society whose social and political makeup it does not understand. It presupposes in Orientalist fashion, a reversion to visceral tribal loyalties and a requirement for the west to engage in damage control.</span></p><p><span>In fact, what is happening in Syria is very simple: civil society has been largely forsaken,with the exception of a few grants from international NGOs. Instead violent warlords have stepped in to fill the political void.</span></p><p><span>There was a moment of great promise in 2011 that has now been relegated to the past. Where are all those journalists who once attempted to convey the pulse of the Arab street? Why is the media no longer interested in what regular people have to say? Why are we falling prey to media-savvy violent groups and not paying attention to civil activists labouring in the shadows to establish a modicum of human rights and pave the way for transitional justice?</span></p><p><span><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/7161508938_739775c728_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/7161508938_739775c728_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Freedom House. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>While we don’t need the western gaze to validate or document the struggle of our people, we do need media outlets to hear our experiences before western experts decide how best to proceed. We need a far greater and concerted effort to stop the deluge of barrel bombs raining on our best and most driven activists, who to stay alive are forced to flee in droves. </span></span></p><p><span><span>Bashar al-Assad, the Arab autocrat still standing, has been able to engage certain key elements of the mass media to convey his version of events to the world while the parallel counter-narrative that civil society groups are eager to reveal has been largely overlooked. Mainstream media remains fixated on military developments.</span></span></p><p><span>A meaningful discourse with Syria’s nonviolent community needs to take place before it’s too late. These civil activists struggling for justice and democracy have experienced every conceivable tragedy first-hand. Their scattered accounts are, however, buried in social media posts long forgotten. They have subverted and mocked everything that the Syrian regime stands for, and they have done it without resort to violence. These civil society groups spread across Syria’s provinces had been, for a very long time, in dialogue with each other without necessarily being aware of it.</span></p><p><span class="print-no mag-quote-left">A meaningful discourse with Syria’s nonviolent community needs to take place before it’s too late.</span></p><p><span>Planet Syria is now providing a broad umbrella under which this dialogue can move from fractured, disparate communications to effective and coordinated engagement. Planet Syria exists so that we, the country’s civil society become visible again, so that our voices become louder than the slick productions of ISIS, so that our ambitions for a future Syria become as viral as the brutality of ISIS and Assad.</span></p><p><span>The </span><a href="http://on.planetsyria.org/diaryentry/">testimonies</a><span> of civil activists, collated by Planet Syria, will bring into the mix of overarching political and academic 'informed' analyses circulating in the media, the personal stories, sentiments, and aspirations of real individuals. Such personal testimonies have the power to unsettle certain strands of reporting. Despite the general militarised narrative, the allegiance of Syrians does not operate solely along sectarian lines. Committed activists from various sects are working together behind the scenes to stitch the country’s fabric even as it comes undone.</span></p><p>The well-known risks of external political engineering must not lead us to dismiss the struggle of the Syrian people as pointless and doomed. It does these brave activists a great injustice to characterise their popular uprising as a scheme managed by imperialist forces. </p><p>Syrian revolutionaries cannot afford to give up on what they started, even if they wanted to. If they give up they will be living on borrowed time, until the regime locates them and tortures or kills them. Syrian civil society is alive and well, and growing despite the most inauspicious conditions. It needs the support of the international community and an accompanying narrative which privileges civil activism over the militarised binary of ISIS and Assad.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jeff-crisp/syria%E2%80%99s-refugees-global-responsibility">Syria&#039;s refugees: a global responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/haid-haid/listen-to-syria%E2%80%99s-nonviolent-activists-stop-bombs">Listen to Syria’s non-violent activists: stop the bombs</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/kafranbel-paradigm-of-creative-storytelling-part-12">Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 1/2)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/kafranbel-paradigm-of-creative-storytelling-part-22">Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 2/2)</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/syria-and-emergence-of-grassroots-artistic-production">Syria and the emergence of grassroots artistic production</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Conflict middle east Syrian creative resistance Arab Awakening: violent transitions Hania Mourtada Fri, 13 Nov 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Hania Mourtada 97583 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 2/2) https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/kafranbel-paradigm-of-creative-storytelling-part-22 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The protesters of Kafranbel combine local struggles with global interests in their banners, they present the specificity of the Syrian context through the universality of the fight for freedom and dignity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/syrien21.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/syrien21.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">As international attention focuses on military escalation, geopolitical factors and the spread of Daesh (also known as the Islamic State, or IS), Syrians are increasingly absent from the debates, with no way to frame the events in which they are the main protagonists. The cultural production of Kafranbel stands out for its effort to counter this trend, presenting powerful storytelling from a Syrian collective point of view, but stories framed as universal.</span></p><h2><strong>Global icons and references</strong></h2> <p>A distinctive feature of Kafranbel's storytelling is the reference to international current events. Far from isolating itself from the rest of the world, the town uses every international celebration, catastrophe or event to make a connection with the Syrian struggle. Examples of this technique range from the <a href="http://i100.independent.co.uk/image/27060-t92ibh.png"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Boston marathon bombings</span></a> and the <a href="http://i100.independent.co.uk/image/27060-18489g.png"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">shooting of African-American high-school student Trayvon Martin</span></a> to internationally recognized dates such as <a href="http://therevoltingsyrian.com/post/46076570101/happy-mothers-day-from-kafranbel-idleb"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Mother's Day</span></a> or Children's Day, which are used to address a global audience by framing Syrian suffering and struggles in identifiable and relatable terms. </p><p>One of the most powerful banners depicts the death of children in Syria with a message that reads "Only in Syria children are killed during International Children's Day" &nbsp;- &nbsp;a stark enough contrast between the international community's declaration of support for children's rights and the constant violation of these rights in Syria.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/27060-18489g.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/27060-18489g.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="302" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Kafranbel uses the global visibility of internationally-recognized events to increase its outreach and expose the 'international community's' double standards. By echoing worldwide celebrations, events and symbols, it highlights the contradiction between international discourse and the reality of Syrian suffering. One of the most effective depictions of this contradiction is a banner representing Russian president Vladimir Putin holding Bashar Al Assad on his lap, crowned with the symbol of chemical weapons, as he receives the Nobel Peace Prize. The town dedicated several of its banners to <a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BWStd3fCUAAxf31.jpg"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">criticizing the Nobel Peace Prize nominations</span></a>, in powerful images that combine symbolism and criticism in a graphic, accessible manner.</p><p>The universal factor is also developed through global icons and references, with an emphasis on pop culture icons, including Hollywood ones. Banners include references to <em>Titanic, </em><a href="http://imgs.knight47.com/users/public/w28305homeg120.png"><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Godfather</span></em></a><em>, Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings</em> and the actors who play them. Among the most touching -- and viral -- &nbsp;was the one the town dedicated to the late actor Robin Williams, dubbed by <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/this-could-be-the-most-poignant-tribute-to-robin-williams-yet--e1fgqVj-7g">The Independent</a>,</span>&nbsp;“the most poignant tribute to Robin William yet.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/27060-1i8t53v.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/27060-1i8t53v.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>In banners soaked in dark humor, which has become a trademark of Syrian narrative and storytelling, the Syrian president takes the shape of iconic villains that range from <em>Child's Play</em> Chucky, or The Smurfs' Gargamel. Other characters are Popeye, Tom and Jerry, the Roadrunner and SpongeBob, well-known characters effectively used to reach all audiences.</p> <h2><strong>A universal struggle</strong></h2> <p>In addition to current events and international references, connections are established between Syria's legitimate resistance against tyranny and other universally-recognized struggles. Kafranbel's banners mention uprisings, revolts and demands by other peoples, such as the Egyptian, Burmese or Ukranian people, to whom the town offers its solidarity.</p> <p>There are also reflections on past struggles. When the world was commemorating the figure of Nelson Mandela, Kafranbel joined in the celebrations, thanking the South African leader's legacy and connecting it to the Syrian nonviolent movement, forsaken by the international community. Mandela's figure is revered, while democracy is characterized as a terminally-ill patient, connected to a blood transfusion device.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/Syria-ukraine-Kafranbel.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/Syria-ukraine-Kafranbel.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="323" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">Through these references, the Syrian tragedy transcends the local factor and becomes a global loss, a retreat from universal rights and freedoms that not only affects Syrians but threatens citizens all over the world. What is at stake, Kafranbel's banners tell us, is the threshold of impunity and the lack of accountability, as Syria has proven there are no mechanisms, will or ability to protect civilians from the ruthlessness of rulers. It is to this global awareness that Kafranbel appeals.</span></p> <p>In an interview with EA Worldview, <a href="http://eaworldview.com/2014/01/syria-kafranbel-media-activist-raed-fares-shot-wounded/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Kafranbel’s Raed Fares himself highlighted</span></a> how crucial it is for the town, and for Syrians, to connect their struggle with the rest of the world:</p> <p>“We keep track of everything happening in the news, all over the world, and if we find something that can help our cause, then we will use it. Appealing to a global audience is very important to us. Our revolution is a people’s revolution, so it is only natural that we seek out the support of people around the world.”</p> <p>In the face of geopolitical discourses that focus on proxy wars and military aspects, Kafranbel combines the reflection on geopolitics with the narration of internal dynamics and demands. These demands, although local, transcend the town of Kafranbel, the country and the region, to appeal to any citizen anywhere, through shared references and values.&nbsp;</p><p><a name="logo"></a></p><p style="background-color: #ededed; padding: 14px; border: 1px dotted #003399;"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><img style="float: right; border: 3px solid #fff; margin: 0px 10px 10px 10px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u537772/UprisingLooinkIn-small-b%20%281%29.png" alt="Looking inside the uprising" width="120" /></a> This article is part of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><em>Looking inside the uprising</em></a>; a joint project between <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/">SyriaUntold</a> and openDemocracy.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/kafranbel-paradigm-of-creative-storytelling-part-12">Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 1/2)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/syria-and-emergence-of-grassroots-artistic-production">Syria and the emergence of grassroots artistic production</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yazan-badran/uprising-and-syria%E2%80%99s-reconstituted-collective-memory">The uprising and Syria’s reconstituted collective memory</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/razan-ghazzawi/razan-and-i">Razan and I</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/salameh-kaileh-victorios-shams/what-is-sectarianism-in-middle-east">What is sectarianism in the Middle East? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/enrico-de-angelis/rethinking-syrian-media">Rethinking Syrian media</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kafranbel </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Kafranbel Syria Syrian creative resistance artistic activism Through Syrian eyes Looking inside the uprising Leila Nachawati Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:56:58 +0000 Leila Nachawati 86775 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 1/2) https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/kafranbel-paradigm-of-creative-storytelling-part-12 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As media coverage of Syria is increasingly monopolized by geopolitical and military approaches, a small town in northwestern Syria continues to provide a collective account of the country that is both accessible and nuanced.</p> </div> </div> </div> <a name="logo"></a><p style="background-color: #ededed; padding: 14px; border: 1px dotted #003399;"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><img style="float: right; border: 3px solid #fff; margin: 0px 10px 10px 10px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u537772/UprisingLooinkIn-small-b%20%281%29.png" alt="Looking inside the uprising" width="120" /></a> This article is part of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><em>Looking inside the uprising</em></a>; a joint project between <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/">SyriaUntold</a> and openDemocracy.<br /><br /></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/syria-poster.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/syria-poster.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="285" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Kafranbel, also known as <a href="http://www.occupiedkafranbel.com/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">“the little Syrian town that could”</span></a>, is a powerful symbol that <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/12/21/7511"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">SyriaUntold considers crucial</span></a> for a better understanding of the Syrian reality. In a series of two articles we will explore the key themes and characteristics of Kafranbel’s production, which provides an insight into the Syrian scenario through powerful and creative storytelling. <sup><a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote1sym">1</a></sup></p> <h2><strong>'</strong><strong>Art out of the salons'</strong></h2> <p>After decades of state-controlled cultural and artistic production, the outbreak of the Syrian uprising triggered a need for self-expression that had been severely repressed. This translated not only into powerful canvases and other formal artistic works but also into less formal and traditional artistic expressions, or as the<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Syrian.Intifada"> </a>'<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Syrian.Intifada">The Syrian People Know their Way</a>' group calls it, “art out of the salons”. Works of graffiti, combative hip-hop and heavy metal beats, creative banners raised in demonstrations and countless other grassroots manifestations permeated the popular uprising. </p><p>Here lies the main difference with the artistic renaissance that accompanied the Arab uprisings of the 50s and 60s. While those are referred to as the “revolutions from above”, deeply connected to the idea of pan-Arabism implemented by ruling elites, we are now witnessing a spontaneous and decentralized wave of cultural and artistic manifestations that do not respond to hierarchical organization, with youth playing a crucial role.[2]&nbsp;Within this context, Kafranbel stands out as a paradigm of grassroots creative storytelling, offering a nuanced account of the past three years in Syria.</p> <p>The banners created by Kafranbel -- also spelt Kafr Nabl, and Kafr Nubl -- and widely shared through online social networks, can be read as episodes of a graphic novel, organized in sections that correspond to the different threats faced by the town, and the country as a whole: <a href="http://totallycoolpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/14022012_syria_uprising/syria_015.jpg"><em>Occupied Kafranbel</em> </a>&nbsp;marks the siege of the town by the Syrian army:<a href="http://cwgusa.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/kafranbel-banner-november-2_12.jpeg">&nbsp;</a><em><a href="http://cwgusa.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/kafranbel-banner-november-2_12.jpeg">Liberated Kafranbel</a></em>&nbsp;celebrates the army's withdrawal, <em>Violated Kafranbel</em> reflects on the threats posed by extremist groups such as Daesh (ISIS), before the town is once again <em>Liberated</em> as it manages to expel Daesh. </p><p>Within this structure, shaped by events on the ground, each banner becomes a fragment in the mosaic composed, week by week, through powerful messages and cartoons. By following it, an interested onlooker can acquire a comprehensive picture that helps clarify the complex Syrian scenario, through a Syrian-made narrative.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/Lede_Kafranbel_Alien-blog480.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/Lede_Kafranbel_Alien-blog480.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>When the state-controlled narrative refers to demonstrators as “terrorists”, Kafranbel develops a storytelling that revolves around “revolutionaries” and “martyrs”. If official channels focus on the “international conspiracy against the country”, Kafranbel stresses the importance of the “uprising”, the “revolution”, and its popular demands. As the regime projects itself as the only guarantee against extremist groups, Kafranbel presents the Assad family and Daesh as two sides of the same coin.</p> <p>Official narrative becomes, for the first time in decades, contested by a grassroots, citizen-made, Syrian narrative that cannot be silenced, and so does mainstream international coverage of the country. Kafranbel not only challenges state-controlled propaganda, but reductionism associated with a western view of the 'other', through banners reflecting on the role of the “international community” in disregarding popular demands and promoting impunity.</p> <h2><strong>Innovation and tradition</strong></h2> <p>Kafranbel is not only an example of Syrian resilience and the hunger for self-expression, but it also exemplifies the evolution of citizen storytelling within a changing and uncertain scenario. While the town has remained true to its essence, it has continued to experiment with different genres and formats, in order to increase and diversify its outreach. Video and theatre are but two examples. In a video entitled<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/09/18/5159"> </a><a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/09/18/5159"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">“The Syrian revolution in three minutes”</span></a>, reactions of the international community to massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime are parodied and ridiculed through a performance inspired by cavemen. In a world that tends to ignore grassroots projects and initiatives, Kafranbel shows awareness not only of Syria´s recent history, but of how the rest of the world views them, as stone age barbarians whose voice has become a nuisance. </p><p>The video, which quickly became viral, ends with the following message: “Death is death, regardless of how it is done. Assad has killed more than 150,000. Stop him.”</p> <p>Kafranbel has also <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2014/03/25/8716"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">experimented with graffiti</span></a>, a lesser known treasure of its artistic production. Activist group<span style="text-decoration: underline;"> <a href="https://www.facebook.com/fadfedgayeena">Live</a></span> managed to cover half of the walls of the town as a testimony of resistance in the face of “bombardement and war that pollutes walls and ideas, and to maintain Kafranbel as a place for life, rather than death.”</p> <p>Others in the town also explore the combination of traditional and modern Syrian art, through projects such as<a href="https://www.facebook.com/PanoramaKafranbel/info"> </a><a href="https://www.facebook.com/PanoramaKafranbel/info"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">“Panorama Kafranbel”</span></a>, based on the antique art of mosaic, present in the Levant region for centuries. This craft, associated with aesthetic scenes of nature, animals and banquets, now serves a revolutionary message that challenges decades of censorship. A torn Syrian map that two hands are trying to sew, a child drawing a graffiti, four figures representing the embrace of four different religions, are some of the themes of these pieces in which Syrian artistic tradition is recovered and adapted to present needs and challenges.</p> <p>Today, tradition and innovation are powerfully exploited in Kafranbel’s storytelling. So is the combination of local and global, as the town’s banners present the specificity of the Syrian context through the universality of its struggle. In our next article for<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"> 'Looking inside the uprising'</a>, we will look into how the story told by this little Syrian town is a universal one, through the cultural icons and references used to tell Kafranbel’s stories.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p> <a class="sdfootnotesym" href="#sdfootnote1anc">1</a><sup></sup> The articles are part of the author’s research on Kafranbel as a paradigmatic case of creative citizen-made storytelling, <em>Syria: from black hole to the most mediated conflict in history. The case of Kafranbel</em>. Carlos III University, Madrid, 2014</p> <p> <a class="sdfootnotesym" href="#sdfootnote2anc">2</a><sup></sup> See Leila Nachawati, “<a href=" http://www.gmfus.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files_mf/1375107790ColomboEtAl_RegionalDynamics_Jul13.pdf">New Regional Dynamics and Means of Communication in the Mediterranean Region</a>”. <em>GMF and IAI Mediterranean Paper Series 2013</em>)</p><p> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/syria-and-emergence-of-grassroots-artistic-production">Syria and the emergence of grassroots artistic production</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/enrico-de-angelis/rethinking-syrian-media">Rethinking Syrian media</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/donatella-della-ratta/importance-of-telling-syrian-stories-as-they-should-be-told">The importance of telling Syrian stories as they should be told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/razan-ghazzawi/razan-and-i">Razan and I</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yazan-badran/uprising-and-syria%E2%80%99s-reconstituted-collective-memory">The uprising and Syria’s reconstituted collective memory</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/joseph-daher/roots-and-grassroots-of-syrian-revolution-part-1-of-4">The roots and grassroots of the Syrian revolution (Part 1 of 4)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kafranbel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Kafranbel Syria Syrian creative resistance artistic activism Through Syrian eyes Looking inside the uprising Leila Nachawati Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:02:55 +0000 Leila Nachawati 86324 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Syria and the emergence of grassroots artistic production https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/leila-nachawati/syria-and-emergence-of-grassroots-artistic-production <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An introduction to the colourful depth and diversity of the uprising's cultural production; a confirmation of multiple and overlapping local narratives that defy geopolitical interest and progaganda. Giving expression to such creativity is one of our motives for,&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">'<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0">Looking inside the uprising</a>'.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <a name="logo"></a><p style="background-color: #ededed; padding: 14px; border: 1px dotted #003399;"><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><img style="float: right; border: 3px solid #fff; margin: 0px 10px 10px 10px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u537772/UprisingLooinkIn-small-b%20%281%29.png" alt="Looking inside the uprising" width="120" /></a> This article is part of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0"><em>Looking inside the uprising</em></a>; a joint project between <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/">SyriaUntold</a> and openDemocracy.<br /><br /></p><p></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/1384092_567247953324772_2106967445_n.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="wissam"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553176/1384092_567247953324772_2106967445_n.jpg" alt="Courtesy of Syrian artist Wissam Al Jazairy. All rights reserved." title="wissam" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Courtesy of Syrian artist Wissam Al Jazairy. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Of all the changes crystallizing around the ideals of the Arab uprisings, the ones that are unquestionably positive are those in the creative and expressive arenas. While the entire region is witnessing an artistic renaissance that can be linked to the emergence of Arab theatre during the uprisings of the 50s, the Syrian case is particularly extreme and prolific. To understand the complexity of the Syrian scenario, it is more important than ever today to follow the stories told by local citizen-made cultural and artistic production, which differs from the international geopolitically-dominated accounts of the country.</p> <p>For decades, artistic and cultural production was deeply connected to the Assad regime. From the art exhibitions in public spaces such as the Arab Cultural Center and the Assad National Library to the soap operas that gained national and regional recognition, replacing Egypt as the number one exporter of televised drama, official production was supervised by the regime, if not directly managed by it. Although we should not overlook the value of a generation of artists and intellectuals such as playwright Saadallah Wannous, film director Omar Amiralay or artist Monif Ajaj, who pushed the limits of censorship long before the advent of the Arab Spring, the Syrian uprising gave birth to grassroots artistic and creative manifestations that transcend the scope of traditional art and culture.</p> <p>Over the past years, Syrian need for self-expression, repressed for decades, has not only translated into powerful canvases and designs by artists such as <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/12/11/7318"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Monif Ajaj</span></a>'s, <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/syrian-creative/9715"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Yara al-Najm</span></a>, <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/syrian-creative/9474"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Yasser Abu Hamed</span></a>, and innumerable others, but also into less formal and traditional forms of artistic expression, or, as <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Syrian.Intifada"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">The Syrian People Know their Way</span></a> group calls it, “art out of the salons”. This is reflected in the countless works of<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/content/freedom-graffiti-campaign"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"> graffiti </span></a>covering the half-demolished walls throughout the country, in songs of resistance that range from the classical notes of <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/08/04/4694"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Malek Jandaly</span></a> to the combative hip-hop of the Syrian-Palestinian <a href="http://syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/09/30/5387"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Refugees of Rap</span></a> and the heavy metal beats of <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/syrian-creative/6569"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Anarchadia</span></a>. It can be seen through documentaries such as those by the latest <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2014/07/05/9903"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Bassel Shahade</span></a> and in the new <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2014/08/08/10174"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">soap-operas made for Youtube</span></a> that aim to replace the official state-controlled production. </p><p>Creativity also permeates the demonstrations that continue to take Syrians to the streets, and the banners of Kafranbel, a town that has became famous for its sharp reflections on the country through its witty cartoons. It can be seen in the work of traditional artists such as<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/06/12/3485"> </a><a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/06/12/3485"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Abu Ali al-Bitar</span></a> and <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/syrian-creative/9801"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Akram Abu al-Fawz</span></a>, who transform rockets and mortar shells into domestic objects and beautiful ornaments.</p> <p>Such production, often soaked in dark humor, provides a storytelling for the country that defies mainstream media's geopolitical and military-dominated approaches. While the latter highlighted the announcement of possible US intervention in the summer of 2013, the attacks with chemical weapons on the suburb of Ghouta, and the spread of ISIS as the conflict's milestones, local artistic production has focused on aspects such as the drama of the detainees and the legitimacy of the struggle of a population fighting on multiple fronts.</p> <p>Within these narratives, citizen responses to the mounting challenges – whether the Assad regime, al-Qaeda or its splinter group ISIS – are deemed as relevant as the challenges themselves. It is as important to recount the suffering of women at the hands of extremists groups as it is to highlight voices such as <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2013/10/17/5811"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Souad Nofal</span></a>'s, a teacher from Raqqa who faced both the regime and ISIS with her hand-made banners. It is as necessary to be aware of the threats against ethnic and religious diversity as it is to highlight<a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2014/08/15/10219"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"> citizen campaigns embracing the diversity</span></a> of Syria, and reconstruction efforts by groups such as Kesh Malek, which recently launched an <a href="http://www.syriauntold.com/en/story/2014/08/21/10263"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">initiative to fund fifteen schools</span></a> in areas of Aleppo free of regime control.</p> <p>All these voices, campaigns and civil society-building initiatives, soaked in art and creativity, reveal the extent of Syrian resilience in the face of repression and destruction. Together these multiple local narratives -- sometimes competing, and even contradictory -- go beyond geopolitical interests and propaganda. To collect these diverse forms of expression and put them in context is one of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0">SyriaUntold</a>’s goals, and reflecting on them will be one of the high points of our collaboration with openDemocracy in '<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening-tags/looking-inside-uprising#0">Looking inside the uprising</a>'.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/donatella-della-ratta/importance-of-telling-syrian-stories-as-they-should-be-told">The importance of telling Syrian stories as they should be told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yazan-badran/uprising-and-syria%E2%80%99s-reconstituted-collective-memory">The uprising and Syria’s reconstituted collective memory</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/enrico-de-angelis/rethinking-syrian-media">Rethinking Syrian media</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/opening-debate-on-sectarianism-in-syria">Opening the debate on sectarianism in Syria</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria artistic activism Strategic Nonviolence Syrian creative resistance Through Syrian eyes Looking inside the uprising Leila Nachawati Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:02:40 +0000 Leila Nachawati 85876 at https://www.opendemocracy.net