The tribes and the state: informal alliances and conflict patterns in contemporary Syria
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Throughout history and up to the present day, tribalism continues to influence many issues related to governance, conflict and stability in the Middle East and North Africa. While many civil society advocates argue that tribal affiliation in the middle East has diminished, as evidenced by the disappearance of intertribal conflicts, family loyalties continue to play a significant role in the everyday life of the Middle East from employment in the public sector to recruitment in the army and security apparatus to competition between families and clans for many of the government positions and other social services provided by the state. Most research has tended to focus on Islamism and Jihadism. Most recently, the Arab Spring was accompanied by the resurgence of sectarianism, extremism and other social phenomena which at the sub or trans-state levels have been empowered by the weakening of states yet, although tribes have also been empowered, the resurgence of tribalism was not studied deeply. Political scientists who focus their research on the political processes of the Middle East tend to focus their attention on state institutions, state policies and national parties. By contrast, anthropologists who are interested in politics limit their focus to segments of the communities and tribal affiliations. This dissertation will attempt to do both by relating the local patterns to the larger system of which they are part. The strategic objective of this research is to explore the policies of the successive Syrian governments towards the Arab tribes and their reactions to these policies and their consequences for the relationship between state and tribe from the fall of the Ottoman Empire and its withdrawal from Syria in 1916 until the eruption of the current Syrian civil war. The research will develop a new understanding of the linkages between environment, economy and government policies as the affect the tribes and their relationship with the state.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2027-06-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st June 2027
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