Project Synergy is a biannual publication centered on vibrance, life, arts & culture. When preparing their first issue, themed ‘Origins’, Artistic Director Alessia Giha Rodríguez ask me to make a written contribution. In this short essay, I engage with the question of human nature and its relation to humanity’s sense of origin. Here, I forewarn readers of this issue, asking them to reflect on the hazards of naturalizing myths and scripts about human organization and sociality.
‘Hazards and hachures of origins’ is available here. The full issue is available here.
At the International Conference on Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World since 1800, hosted in May 2021 by McGill University’s Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC), Prof. Jon Unruh and I present ongoing research exploring the significance of neo-Ottomanism and hydropolitics within the Middle East security environment.
The changing scale and duration of drought in the Levant has undermined the agricultural and life-providing traits of the Fertile Crescent. Crop failure, food insecurity, and economic downturn in rural areas have served as a case in point of environmental change in this region. Looking to the sociopolitical implications of these changes, it is now widely accepted that the 2006-2011 drought in Syria played a central role in what has become a violent internationalized civil war, spilling into neighboring Iraq. While climate change stands as an important determinant to drought in this region, scholars, civil society, and public commentators have insufficiently considered the role of surface and ground water in these changes. Where water flowing through the Tigris-Euphrates river system stands as the lifeblood of much of the Middle East, the geographic extent of this hydrological basin asks us to look upstream, to its source areas in Turkey and beyond the conflict zone. Positioning itself at the intersection of resource management and geopolitics, this article uses hydropolitics to disentangle Turkey’s influential role in the Middle East security landscape. Where Lake Van and the Taurus mountain range mark the source of both the Tigris and Euphrates, respectively, major dam projects since the 1970s have incrementally lowered the annual flow volume of both rivers. While both Iraq and Syria have accused Turkey of water hoarding, the country’s near two-decade long leadership has argued its sovereign right to this resource, continuing to develop new dam projects. Having already weaponized this resource to flood Kurdish settlements, there is a credible claim that Turkey will use water to achieve other political goals. The authors explore this by considering the neo-Ottoman project, one defined by a revival of the former empire’s ideals, foreign policy, and regional influence. Looking to the current occupation of northern Syria by Turkish armed forces, we draw attention to the relevance of water weaponization and drought-influenced security vacuums in this new form of regional imperialism.
This piece of exploratory comparative research was presented at the 2021 conference of the American Association of Geographers, as part of the ‘Refugees and the right to the city: perspectives from the Global South (Part II)’ panel organized by Diala Lteif.
Evidence from recent large-scale displacement situations suggests that state responses to forced displacement are increasingly politically motivated, rather than resulting from a humanitarian duty to protect. As the securitization and criminalization of migration become further entrenched in law and policy, the instrumentalization of refugees is quickly becoming a staple of political playbooks worldwide. Externally, refugees have become peons to foreign policy. Internally, they are placeholders made responsible for the ills of society, an agreeable accusation in emerging ethnonationalist landscapes. As a result, refugee rights, needs, and claims have been occluded. The state’s central role in creating conditions of uncertainty, marginalization, and informality, however, are leading to its own demise and self-destruction in refugee spaces. Effectively, frustrations and dwindling faith in host country governments are providing a substratum for the production of refugee livelihoods, relationships, and identities that coalesce around shared acrimony toward state institutions that have abandoned them. Based on extensive fieldwork in Turkey and Peru, this article shows how some refugee communities have adapted to difficult material and existential conditions by creating geographic spaces and places of meaning that are beyond the state. Where subjectivities and performances converge upon subversion, autonomy, and mutual aid, the ethnographic cases of refugee placemaking presented are ontologically explored through the prism of anarchist philosophy and praxis. The observations are evocative, asking us to reflect on how displacement and resulting reformulations of space and place intersect with notions of futurities that are beyond the state.
This guest lecture was prepared for INTD 358 Ethnographic Approaches to Development, taught by Diana Allan at the Department of Anthropology and Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University. During this lecture, I explore maps as method to augment traditional ethnographic approaches (as similarly described by Low, 2014) . Working hand in hand, cartography and descriptive-observational writing make up what I call ‘ethnographic mapping’ (Parent, 2020).
Cet article a été écrite pour la revue annuelle Perceptions, ayant la « liminalité » comme thème choisi. Perceptions est une revue publiée par l’École de design, Faculté de l’aménagement, Université de Montréal.
Parent, Nicolas et Sarazin, François. « La liminalité et l’exile : Au-delà de l’étiquette ». Perceptions, no. 2 (Automne 2020) : 25-29.
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