Katherine Nora Maddox

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Texas, Austin, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9831

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Maddox, Katherine (University of Texas at Austin) "Situating Syrian-ness in France: Asylum and Diaspora in Paris"

To answer the question of how exiled Syrians forge their own lifeworlds in Paris, France, this study employs ethnographic methods to explore the unique conception of Syrian-ness that emerges from biographies shaped by the legacy of French colonialism, Syrian nationalism, and the ongoing violence in Syria. While categories such as “refugee,” “asylum seeker,” and “French citizen of Syrian origin” may be discernable in the eyes of the state and international governing bodies, they are often less sharply marked in the practices of everyday life. Ethnographic engagement with these categories and the experience of resettlement can reveal what is at stake in claims of Syrian-ness among a transnational diaspora and in the face of catastrophic violence in Syria. By attending to their outward-facing assertion of Syrian-ness as well as engaging experiences of individual Syrians in Paris, this project pushes back against overly determined narratives of dehistoricized victimhood that accompany the figure of the Syrian as refugee. And by tracking how Syrians respond to structures of the French state in their everyday life beyond the paradigm of helpless asylees as well as how they negotiate space as members of a diasporic network, this project contributes to anthropological studies of diaspora and refugeeness.