Aiding Activism? Humanitarianism’s Impacts on Mobilized Syrian Refugees in Jordan

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A common narrative of the Syrian conflict suggests that it began with a grassroots uprising and devolved into a violent war between armed actors, leaving civilians to become victims or warriors. A more careful consideration of developments in and around Syria uncovers evidence of continued unarmed mobilization among civilians. Indeed, refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan are deeply engaged in humanitarian, developmental, and political endeavors. In this study, qualitative research and a unique survey together demonstrate that Syrians in Jordan have engaged in abundant activism on behalf of the Syrian cause. Still, the overwhelming militarism and humanitarianism that have characterized the Syrian crisis have had their impacts: activist organization is constricted and configured by security imperatives and, paradoxically, by the aid regime assisting civilians in the conflict. In turn, activism has evolved from grassroots mobilization to a formal and aid-based response to a humanitarian crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalMiddle East Law and Governance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Activism
  • Aid
  • Civil war
  • Humanitarianism
  • Jordan
  • Refugees
  • Respondent-driven sampling
  • Syria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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