Syrian refugee family thrives in American south

Courtesy of Square, Inc.

by Lesli Davis

A short film produced by Square, Inc. tells the story of a refugee family living in Knoxville, TN.

Yassin Falafel, as some people call him, runs a popular restaurant in downtown Knoxville. After fleeing the war in Syria, he and his family settled in East Tennessee. Initially without a work permit, Yassin began selling his sandwiches at the local mosque. With a little help from an imam at the mosque, Yassin opened his downtown store.

Yassin says that anyone who comes in his restaurant is family – from the fellow refugees he employs to those who have never tried falafel before.

His message is simple: all are welcome.

Courtesy of Square, Inc.


Call for papers: Conference on Transforming Development

The Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity and the Center for Social Concerns at the University Notre Dame in collaboration with SIT Study Abroad announce the 6th annual student conference on human development.

Offering participants the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary and sustainable research to improve livelihoods while advancing human dignity, this year’s theme is inspired by the idea that development is an evolving process. A widening set of stakeholders and rapidly advancing technologies raise new possibilities for the field. The conference will be a chance to reflect on both successes and failures in development, while analyzing opportunities created by these new trends.

With the goal of showcasing student research that investigates collaborative and innovative solutions to address human development’s most challenging issues, we welcome proposals from undergraduate and graduate students to share their research, particularly those based on experiences in the field, in a broad spectrum of topics:

  • Agriculture
  • Aid
  • Business
  • Culture
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • Gender
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Human Rights
  • Infrastructure
  • Migration
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Public Policy
  • Religion
  • Technology

Students interested in presenting a paper should submit their abstract (no more than 500 words) no later than Thursday, November 14.

DC conference: Student proposals sought on diversity in conflict/divided societies

The Georgetown University Conflict Resolution Program is calling for student papers, art, and videography for their conference, “Managing Diversity in Divided Societies.” Submissions should address the following questions:

What tools and mechanisms best promote diversity? How is diversity best approached in conflict societies? How can the arts be used to engage diversity and enhance societal well being?

Cash prizes will be awared to the top three finalists in the categories of diversity, conflict, and peace-building. Submissions are open to third and fourth year undergraduate students and graduate students.

Abstracts will be accepted until October 15th. Submissions are due on December 1st. The conference will be held on January 30-31st.

Send questions and submissions to:

Anthro in the news 5/27/13

A monument to those who have died attempting to cross the US-Mexico border./© Tomas Castelazo, / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

• Heavy toll at the border

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office in southern Arizona holds the largest collection of missing-person reports for immigrants who have disappeared while crossing the United States-Mexico border. Many hundreds of remains await identification. An article in The New York Times quotes Bruce Anderson, the chief forensic anthropologist at the medical examiner’s office and adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona: “Less people are coming across…but a greater fraction of them are dying.” There were 463 deaths in the past fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30 — the equivalent of about five migrants dying every four days, according to an analysis by the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group. As security at the border has tightened, migrants are pushed to seek more remote and dangerous routes.

Conservation vs. people in Chagos

Chagos Islands

Sean Carey provided an update on the situation in the Chagos Islands in an article in The Independent (UK). He notes the pleasure of marine biologists and conservationists working in Chagos who take pleasure in the absence of any people living there. Meanwhile exiled Chagossians are still fighting for the right to return.

Take that anthro degree and…

….become the Director of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and the first East African to direct a UN body. Mukhisa Kituyi will take on the UNCTAD leadership role this September. He is a graduate of political science and international relations from Makerere University in Kampala and also holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology.

study the fashion industry at the new Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design. A few months ago, Zuzanna Ciszewska was working at a public relations agency in Warsaw. The 24-year-old with a master’s degree in anthropology and a lifelong passion for fashion saw an ad in British Vogue. Now she is one of the first 45 students at enrolled in a 10-week course meant to introduce them to topics like the fashion calendar, the history of fashion, important designers, fashion journalism, retail, business, marketing and public relations. Continue reading “Anthro in the news 5/27/13”

Upcoming event: The Social Dimensions of Resilience

The Environmental Change and Security Program will host The Social Dimensions of Resilience at the Wilson Center on:

Monday, March 18, 2013
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
5th Floor Conference Room

Featuring: Roger-Mark De Souza
Vice President of Research and Director of the Climate Program, Population Action International


Elizabeth Malone
Senior Research Scientist, Joint Global Change Research Institute

Betty Hearn Morrow
Professor Emeritus, Florida International University
Moderator: Laurie Mazur
Author, ECSP Consultant


From the Haitian earthquake to Superstorm Sandy, recent years have presented many “teachable moments” about the need for greater resilience in the face of disaster. To date, much of the conversation on resilience has focused on making infrastructure more robust—by, for example, building seawalls to protect against storm surges. But resilience has social dimensions that are at least as important. Social factors largely determine the extent to which people and communities respond to and recover from changes in the environment, whether gradual (such as climate change) or more abrupt (such as hurricanes). This panel will explore the social dimensions of resilience, including the role of equity–especially gender equity–and inclusive governance. Panelists will present research and initiatives that link reproductive health to climate adaptation, and showcase current projects in Malawi, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and the Caribbean that take a holistic approach to cultivating resilience.

Location: Woodrow Wilson Center at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. (“Federal Triangle” stop on Blue/Orange Line). A map to the Center is available at Note: Photo identification is required. Please allow additional time to pass through security.

Kurdistan Regional Autonomy and the Twentieth Century State

Guest post by Tashi Rabgey
Dr. Tashi Rabgey with Professor Dosky, University of Duhok - Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq

While traveling in Iraqi Kurdistan last week, I had the opportunity to give a talk at the University of Duhok on the problem of twentieth century statehood.  The question of what will become of the project of rule we know of as the “nation-state” seemed particularly apt in the city of Duhok, given the raging civil war in neighboring Syria, mounting Turkish air strikes on the PKK along the Iraqi border and chilling developments in Iran to the east — all, rather disconcertingly, within easy driving distance of this ancient Kurdish town.

Yet even with Kurdish refugees from Syria streaming daily into Duhok as a reminder of the precariousness of contemporary statehood, the faculty and scholars I met with, both in the capital Erbil and in Duhok, were most animated by questions concerning the flip side of statehood — that is, the more humdrum business of governing and everyday practices of rule.  How can the abundant natural resources of the region be best developed and their social benefits better distributed?  In what ways can Kurdish language use in higher education be further advanced?  What might be some prospects for global partnerships in cooperative research and strategic policy studies?

Faculty and scholars of the University of Duhok

These questions pointed to an extraordinary achievement.  With little fanfare, Iraqi Kurdistan has become a fully autonomous political entity within a reconfigured Iraqi state.  Legally recognized as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since the revision of the Iraqi constitution in 2005, the autonomous region has proven its mettle over the past seven years, navigating the treacherous geopolitics of the region while attracting major foreign investment from neighboring Turkey, formerly the loudest detractor of even the idea of an autonomous Kurdistan region within the state of Iraq.

Turkey, of course, has its own unaddressed Kurdish question, with a good part of its southeastern territories being composed of Kurdish lands, and its population of 15 million Kurds having been resistant to Turkish rule throughout the twentieth century.  Indeed, the remarkable success of the Kurdistan autonomous region in Iraq only underscores the larger Kurdish question that remains unanswered in Turkey, Iran and Syria.  Not only have Kurdish areas been subsumed within these states, the Kurds themselves have long been locked in a bitter struggle for their right to exist as a people. Longer term regional stability will require a political commitment to address the issue far beyond Erbil and Baghdad.
Continue reading “Kurdistan Regional Autonomy and the Twentieth Century State”

Event in Washington, DC


The Woodrow Wilson Center is hosting a book discussion: “Is There A Place for Uzbeks in The Kyrgyz Republic?: Lessons from ‘Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Societal Renewal in Osh'”


October 04, 2012 // 3:30pm — 5:30pm

Ethnic Uzbeks in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) attempted to create a place for themselves in the Kyrgyz-dominated nation-state since its independence in 1991.  For a while, there were reasons to be optimistic about this minority community.  Even though they felt ethnic discrimination, local Uzbek leaders labored through the 1990s and 2000s to build institutions that serve the Uzbek communities within the framework of their Kyrgyzstani citizenship.  That model of ethnic community-building now lies in tatters after the massive conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June 2010.  What now for Uzbeks in the Kyrgyz Republic?  This talk evaluates their prospects in light of sixteen years of detailed ethnographic work among Osh Uzbeks.

The speaker, Morgan Y. Liu, is a cultural anthropologist studying Islamic revival, postsocialist states, and social justice movements.  An Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, at The Ohio State University, he teaches about the Middle East, Central Asia, Islamic revival and social justice, and cultural theory. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University.  His Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan in Anthropology.

His 2012 book, Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh (University of Pittsburgh Press), concerns how ethnic Uzbeks in the ancient Silk Road city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan think about political authority and post-Soviet transformations, based on research using vernacular language interviews and ethnographic fieldwork of urban social life from 1993 to 2011.
Continue reading “Event in Washington, DC”