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Understanding the spatial and social dynamics of the Syrian conflict

© © UNHCR/Bassam Diab
Destruction in Homs, Syria

Project led by Dr Leïla Vignal (Marie Curie European Fellow, RSC and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Rennes-2, France).

This research project aimed at understanding the spatial and social dynamics of the Syrian conflict. It has been mostly concerned with the transformations of the Syrian society over the crisis that has engulfed this country since 2011.  It has analysed different local networks, the local organisations and the forms of governance that have developed since the beginning of the uprising. Looking at the dynamics of the current crisis at the ‘local’ level helps us understand current spatial and social reorganisations. The investigation has focused on local contexts and has led to a mapping of the interrelated movements of people (IDPs and refugees), of the logic and impacts of destructions, and of the local dynamics of warfare. This research forms the basis of a book project, to be completed in 2018. In addition to publications already available, five additional journal articles will be published in due course.

Other outputs were the following presentations:

  • October 2016, at an international conference in Beirut by the WAFAW ERC programme on post-Arab Spring changes titled ‘How Economics Matter?’;
  • January 2017, at an international conference in Aswan organised by the CEDEJ-Le Caire titled ‘Borders and Territorial Reconfigurations in the Middle East and the Sahel’;
  • March 2017, at the ISA Annual Congress, Baltimore, USA;
  • March 2017, at the international conference ‘Beyond Crisis: Rethinking Refugee Studies’ organized by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford;
  • July 2017, at the Congress of the GIS Moyen-Orient et Mondes Musulmans, in Paris, France.

A conference on Syria was organized at the EHESS in Paris in May 2016 titled ‘Penser avec la Syrie’, as well as a panel on Syria at the MESA (Middle Eastern Studies Association) Conference, Boston, November 2016. 

Other publications

2017, ‘Pérennité et transformations de la frontière syrienne’, Confluences Méditerranée 2017/2 (101), 39–52.

2016, ‘Syria: The Strategy of Destruction’, Books and Ideas, 6 June 2016 (


Policy & Impact

View a selection of case studies demonstrating the impact of our research

Selected publications