Past Events

February 7, 2023

CSS hosted an online seminar titled “Damascene Reformers: The ethical paradox of pursuing change under ideological regimes”. By Dr. Omar Imady, CSS associate and independent author.

2022 saw the passing of two disparate yet similar Damascene Reformers: Muhammad Imady (June 2022) and Shaikha Munira al-Qubaisi (December 2022). Imady was the longest-serving Minister of Economy in modern Syria. Shaikha Munira was the charismatic leader of the largest female religious Muslim movement in modern history. At first glance, these two figures appear to have little in common. But in actuality, they shared a fascinating and unique modus operandi and commitment to reform in the most hostile of settings. In the wake of the publication of his recent book, An Inside Story of Modern Syria: The Unauthorised Biography of a Damascene Reformer, Omar Imady explores the pressing conundrum of the pursuit of reform under ideological regimes.


October 25, 2022

BOOK LAUNCH: The Centre for Syrian Studies and the Institute of Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Studies hosted a book launch for

Actors and Dynamics in the Syrian Conflict’s Middle Phase: between contentious politics, militarization and regime resilience, Routledge-St Andrews Syrian Studies Series, 2022



Jasmine Gani, University of St. Andrews, co-editor

Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St. Andrews. Co-editor

Rashid Kattan, Centre for Syrian Studies

Rana Khalaf, University of Manchester

Aurora Sottimano, University of Rome

Bilal Sukkar, Saferworld


JUNE 10, 2022

CSS speaks with Prof. Chris Phillips about ‘everyday Arab Identity’ in the Post-2011 Syria

The Arab Identity during the Syrian War: Less Power and more Fluidity?

The Syrian war has vehemently shaken the identity balance and seem to disrupt the pre-2011 multilayered identity (consisting of Arabism as umbrella identity under which Syrianism and Islamism follow). While state and non-state actors are manipulating Islamic and Syrian identity to construct power, the Arab identity seems to be demising. Despite the debate of the rise and death of Arabism, implications of Syrian War subject Arab identity to a new process of transformation.

Chair: Professor Raymond Hinnebusch, Director of Centre for Syrian Studies CSS

Chris Phillips: Professor in International Relations at the Queen Mary University London

Ola Rifai: Senior Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies CSS

APRIL 5, 2022

Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism

Dr Zeynep Kaya of the University of Sheffield speaks with CSS about her research and book, Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism.



Since the early twentieth-century, Kurds have challenged the borders and national identities of the states they inhabit. Nowhere is this more evident than in their promotion of the ‘Map of Greater Kurdistan’, an ideal of a unified Kurdish homeland in an ethnically and geographically complex region. This powerful image is embedded in the consciousness of the Kurdish people, both within the region and, perhaps even more strongly, in the diaspora. Addressing the lack of rigorous research and analysis of Kurdish politics from an international perspective, Dr Kaya focuses on self-determination, territorial identity and international norms to suggest how these imaginations of homelands have been socially, politically and historically constructed (much like the state territories the Kurds inhabit), as opposed to their perception of being natural, perennial or intrinsic. Adopting a non-political approach to notions of nationhood and territoriality, ‘Mapping Kurdistan’ is a systematic examination of the international processes that have enabled a wide range of actors to imagine and create the cartographic image of greater Kurdistan that is in use today.

Speaker: Dr Zeynep Kaya is Lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield. She holds a PhD in International Relations from the LSE. Her main research areas involve borderlands, territoriality, conflict, peace, political legitimacy and gender. She has recently published a monograph entitled Mapping Kurdistan: Territory, Self-Determination and Nationalism with Cambridge University Press, is co-editor of I.B. Tauris-Bloomsbury’s book series on Kurdish studies and co-convenor of the Kurdish Studies Series with the LSE Middle East Centre. She is also an Academic Associate at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.

Chair: Dr Jasmine Gani is Senior Lecturer in the School of International Relations and Co-Director of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews.

FEBRUARY 8, 2022

Humanitarian Assistance and War Crimes

Dr Carsten Wieland and Dr Michelle Burgis

The CSS and MECACS hosted this joint presentation from Dr Carsten Wieland, scholar, German diplomat, former senior UN consultant, and Middle East and conflict expert with high-ranking mediation experience, and Dr Michelle Burgis-Kasthala of the University of Edinburgh,

Dr Wieland will present his book Syria and the Neutrality Trap: The Dilemmas of Delivering Humanitarian Aid through Violent Regimes.

The Syrian war has been an example of the abuse and insufficient delivery of humanitarian assistance. According to international practice, humanitarian aid should be channelled through a state government that bears a particular responsibility for its population. Yet in Syria, the bulk of relief went through Damascus while the regime caused the vast majority of civilian deaths. Should the UN have severed its cooperation with the government and neglected its humanitarian duty to help all people in need? Decision makers face these tough policy dilemmas, and often the “neutrality trap” snaps shut.

Dr Burgis-Kasthala will present on ‘Assembling Atrocity Archives for Syria: Assessing the Work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability and the UN Syria Mechanism’.

What types of material are being archived in the midst of Syria’s conflict? Who is gathering this material and for what ends? How might this material inform future criminal trials or broader transitional justice mechanisms? This talk draws on ethnographic research into two key archival actors in Syria’s war to reflect on avenues for redress and responsibility through such activities.

Watch the event here


NOVEMBER 4, 2021

The Question of Religion in the Syrian Constitutions

Dr Rim Turkmani – LSE

The Centre for Syrian studies together with MECACS Presents – The Question of Religion in the Syrian Constitutions

This lecture will discuss the question of religion within all the Syrian constitutions since the first ever attempt to write a constitution for Syria exactly a century ago and until the current constitution. It will go beyond the constitutional provisions and examines the debates and discussions surrounding the question of religion as recorded in the debates of the constitutional assemblies and in the public debate. It will discuss how the debate around the question of religion took on different dimensions depending on the context of the time, and the social and political climate in which the constitutional argument took place.

Dr Rim Turkmani is the principal investigator of the LSE based research project Legitimacy and citizenship in the Arab world project.
She is also the research director of the Syria conflict research programme at the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Her policy-oriented research work focuses on the political economy and governance in Syria and the local drivers of the conflict and their relation to external dynamics. She is member of the Women Advisory Board to the UN special envoy to Syria.

Watch the event here

JULY 21, 2021

Syria’s Trajectory Before and Since the Uprising: New Achievements, Celebrations and Farewells   (recording available)                                                                


2:30-2:40 Welcome and Introduction, Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St. Andrews

Two presentations will examine current consequences of the Syrian conflict as documented in the recently successful Ph.D theses by two of our students.

2: 40-3:00 Tamara al-Om, University of St. Andrews, ‘The continuing resistance of Syria’s oppositional civil society’.

3:00-3:20 Ferdinand Arslanian, Unversity of St. Andrews, “Explaining Syria’s Coping with Economic Sanctions: The Interaction of International and Domestic Factors”. 

3:20-3:45 Farewell to Dr Omar Imady:

We will also hear from Omar Imady, the long-time deputy director of the Centre, who is leaving his role here for other endeavours. We want to wish him well and hear about his current and future projects, in particular: The Unauthorised Biography of a Damascene Reformer, an exploration of Syria’s recent history through the prism of the experience of Dr. Muhammed Imady, former Syrian economy minister; and When Her Hand Moves, a collection of novellas.

3:45- 4:00 Discussion

Syria’s Trajectory Before and Since the Uprising

JUNE 25 2021 Social Change in Syria: Family, Village and Political Party By Dr. Sulayman Khalaf Book Launch

The Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews and the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Brunel University held an on-line event on 25 June 2021 celebrating and discussing the book of Sulayman Khalaf, Social Change in Syria: Family, Village and Political Party published in the Routledge-St Andrews Syrian Studies Series The book looks at the transformations in Syria over many decades through the lens of a particular Raqqa village and several village personalities that played key roles in events or whose lives reflected happenings at the national level

Social Change in Syria: Family, Village and Political Party By Dr. Sulayman KhalafProgramme of Book Launch

Friday 25 June 2021 14:00 UK Time

  1. 14:00-05 Welcome and Introduction: Raymond Hinnebusch and Maria Kastrinou
  2. 14:05-14:20: panel on the contribution of the book to disciplines studying the Middle East Maria Kastrinou: anthropology; Ray Hinnebusch: historical sociology; Abdul Nabi Isstaif: The book as a counter to Orientalist views of the Middle East; Chris Davidson, contributions of the book to Middle East studies
  3. 14:20-14:30: Sulayman Khalaf and Barbara Hayward: the method and challenges of writing the book.
  4. What the book tells us about Syria 14:30-14:40: Dawn Chatty on the books insights into the pre-Ba’th Raqqa tribes turning into cotton shaykhs; 14:40-50 Paul Anderson: What the book tells us about the tribes and Aleppo merchant connection; 14:50-15:00 Haian Dukhan: What the book tells us about the interaction of the Raqqa Tribes with the rise of the Ba’th; 15:00-15:10: Myriam Ababsa: What the book tells us about Raqqa under Bashar’s neo-liberalism
  5. 15:10: Questions and discussions from the audience-15:30 End

April 2021

Ten years on the Syrian Uprising: Road Map to Peace? Challenges and Opportunities

Friday 2 April 2021 –  3:00 to 5:00 pm (GMT)

Via MS Teams

Full Programme

Introduction 3:00-3:05pm

Prof. Raymond Hinnebusch

Session One: 3:05 – 3:35pm

Chair: Dr. Francesco Belcastro

Dr. Haid Haid – Reintegrating non-state armed groups in Syria: Mechanisms, Actors, and Shortfalls.

Ibrahim Hamidi – The regional challenges towards uniting Syrian opposition.

Dr. Jasmine Gani –US and EU positions on the future of Syria.


Break 3:35 to 3:40 pm


Session Two: 3:40 – 4:20 pm

Chair: Dr. Jinan Al-Habbal

Prof. Simon Mabon – The process of de-sectarianization in Syria

Rashad Kattan –Identifying challenges facing the reconstruction of the economy.

Rana Khalaf –The potential role of civil society in state-building.

Ola Rifai -The question of national identity in post-conflict Syria and the quest to reproduce an inclusive national identity


Q and A session: 4:20 – 4:50 pm

Closing Remarks from Prof Raymond Hinnebusch

The 4th CSS International Conference on Syria: “The Syrian War: Later Evolution, Future Prospects”


1-3 August 2018 in St Andrews, Scotland

The main theme of the conference was the late Uprising period since roughly 2015, with  focus on issues such as the sectarianization of the conflict; the evolution of the balance of power among groups in the conflict; governance and civil society amidst civil war in both regime and opposition areas; diplomacy and external intervention in the conflict; the Syrian diaspora; and issues of “reconciliation” and “reconstruction.”

The programme of proceedings can be found here

Link to Chrome Radio – The Syrian War; Later Evolution, Future Prospects

Syria: Moving Beyond the Stalemate

July 2015 – St Andrews


Keynote Address

Keynote Address – Professor William Zartman of Johns Hopkins University

Summary of Research

Summary of Research Presented

Responses of Participants

Responses by conference participants to the summary of findings

Recordings of Proceedings

Watch footage of the conference here

Media links

خمسة سيناريوات في سورية بينها «مناطق نفوذ» و«تقشف» النظام لحماية الساحل

Youthful Voices