Guest lecture: Engaging with the Syrian refugee crisis’ origins rather than focusing only on Europe’s borders

Cover of book on which the Postcolonial Transitions course is based, edited by the two course lecturers

Last week I gave a guest lecture in the graduate course, Postcolonial Transitions, at Utrecht University (course lecturers Dr. Gianmaria Colpani and Prof. Sandra Ponzanesi). The lecture was part of a course module on applying postcolonial frameworks in order to better understand the Arab Spring, its history, and aftermath. It was also designed to raise critical questions about how useful these frameworks are for a case such as Syria. It was a great experience to discuss such a pressing, current conflict with engaged and informed students. Here are the readings that were assigned for the week:

Sangheeta Ray. 2005. “Postscript: Popular Perceptions of Postcolonial Studies after 9/11.” In A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, edited by H. Swhatz and S. Ray, 574-583. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

• Rosa Vasilaki. 2013. “Between Postcolonialism and Radical Historicism: the Contested Muslim Political Subject.” In Postcolonialism and Islam: Theory, Literature, Culture, Society and Film, edited by G. Nash, K. Kerr-Koch and S. Hackett, 65-75. London: Routledge.

• Hamid Dabashi. 2012. “Introduction.” In The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism. London:Zed Books.

• Ussama Makdisi. 2017. “The Problem of Sectarianism in the Middle East in the Era of

Western Hegemony.” In Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, edited by N. Hashemi and D. Postel, 23-34. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

• Lindsey Hilsum. 2017. “War of All Against All.” The New York Review of Books, November 23. Available at:

• Donya Alinejad and Saskia Baas. 2018. “Syria and the Problem of Left Solidarity.” Salvage,March 1. Available at:


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