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Syria's Civil War: Sect Habitus and the Evolution of Human Rights Discourse
Based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in war-torn Syria and Lebanon, this paper shows how a human rights discourse (HRD) became part of daily narratives of ordinary Syrians beginning in 2011. I show how the “universal” hegemonic human rights discourse traveled to Syria, got sectarianized, and was deployed by the warring parties across the board. I ask how ordinary Syrians made sense of the human rights discourse before and during the revolution, and then throughout the war, to analyze how most warring and non-warring parties adopted some aspects of the human rights “field” to justify their positions. I show how, under the war conditions, sect habitus transformed based on an ambiguous human rights discourse which in turn got sectarianized and hardened sect identities into sectarian divisions. This chapter traces the evolution of a Syrian HRD that was deployed across the political spectrum and shows that under the war conditions sect habitus transformed based on an ambiguous HRD, which in turn became sectarianized.
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