Hivos International

Line Khatib: Syrian Perspectives Project is an Excellent Example of Insider Knowledge

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*Line Khatib is Senior Researcher at The Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (ICAMES), McGill University, Montreal, QC Canada and Assistant Professor at Political Science INS department, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Hivos: How and when did you come to know Hivos' Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia?

LK: I became acquainted with the Hivos' Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia during a conference on Syria and Iran in 2011 at the University of Amsterdam.

Hivos: What is your assessment of the impact and relevance of our publications?

LK: Hivos’ Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia publications are valuable because they offer a good combination of empirical information and critical analysis, conceptual insights and thematic breadth. The research and analysis is accessible and student-friendly, and there are a wide-range of critical and engaging works. The result is material that strikes a good balance between analytics and empirics and that can be useful to readers from many different disciplinary and educational backgrounds.

Hivos: Which publication (s) in particular you use in your work, how and why? Who is the target group?

LK: I have used a number of policy papers, working papers and articles published by Hivos’ Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia in my own research and courses. Amer Abu Hamed’s special bulletin Syria’s Local Coordination Committees: The Dynamo of a Hijacked Revolution (2014) is an essential empirical paper that sheds light on an aspect of the Syrian revolution that has been largely ignored in Western scholarship. Steven Heydemann’s working paper The Uncertain Future of Democracy Promotion (2010) is essential reading about authoritarian practices and their impact on the international system. One policy paper in particular that comes to mind and that is popular with my students is Kawa Hassan’s Re-thinking Civic Activism in the Middle East: Agency without Association? (2011). Indeed, the Syrian perspectives project is an excellent example of insider knowledge. It offers pieces that are both important and timely as they provide a glimpse into the Syrian conflict from the perspective of an insider researcher. Some of the project’s Arabic research papers are also excellent additions to the knowledge base of researchers working in this area, and should be read by those who speak the language. Overall, the Syria knowledge initiative is in my view a much needed project given the present challenges of conducting research in Syria, and is very helpful for keeping up with the details of the current situation and developments.

Hivos: What would be your advice for us in order to further improve our impact and outreach?   

LK: I suggest giving readers online access to all of your papers. Furthermore, some of the papers that are written in Arabic should be translated since there are many that are excellent and that deserve a wider readership.

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