Dr Harout Akdedian: The New Social Order in Syria - The Evolving Role of Religion since 2000
After 2011, Syria witnessed the splintering of armed groups into a collection of private local militias, armed opposition groups, official armed forces, and other state-sponsored but semi-official paramilitary factions. This atrophy of the monopoly of violence coupled with the devolution of state functions to new actors indicate a drastic breakaway from the preexisting social order, especially at the local level. Local methods of public administration reveal a pattern of reconfiguration and utilization of religious organizational arrangements as a framework for local governance. Hence, the seminar focused on Islamic and non-Islamic groups in Syria that rely on the institutional domain of religion as an organizational framework after 2011. This newly emerging condition of religion as a dominant institutional domain was being compared to pre-2011 conditions to reveal a preexisting process of growing religious institutional autonomy vis-à-vis the state.
Dr Harout Akdedian has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of New England in Australia. His research focuses on the rise of radicalized Islamic groups and ethno-religious relations in Syria with particular attention to state-society relations and social exclusion in state formation processes. Dr Akdedian was a research fellow at the Human Rights Center in Costa Rica and worked as a freelance journalist in Lebanon and Syria.