News and events
As one of Canada’s leading research universities, the University of Victoria is home to a wealth of world-class expertise across a broad range of disciplines. More than 800 faculty researchers are at the forefront of discovery—on everything from aging to music to zoology—and are working with community, government and business partners to turn that new knowledge into action.
Who are these researchers? What do they study? And how is their work relevant to our lives? Find out in the newly launched “Faces of UVic Research” video series, in which individual researchers give a short and succinct “elevator pitch” on their work—in everyday language—that quickly gets to the heart of what they do and why it matters.
Dr. Ian Macpherson, long-time member of the History Department, as well as former Chair of the Department and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, passed away on Saturday, November 16th. He was 74.
Ian joined the History Department in 1976. He was an eminent Canadian historian of the rural Prairie West and had a long and extremely distinguished career working on both historical and contemporary issues relating to co-operatives, both in Canada and around the world. In 2000 Ian founded the B.C. Institute for Co-operative Studies at UVic (now the Centre for Co-operative and Community-Based Economy), and served as Director of the Centre from 2000 to 2008. The Centre became a prime source of scholarly material as well as support for practitioners in co-operative undertaking. Ian was also very active in the co-op movement both in Canada and internationally, and took a leading role in creating the Canadian Co-operative Association, was the co-founder of CASC (the Canadian Association for the Study of Co-operation), and chair of the International Co-operative Alliance committee that revised the co-operative principles in 1995.
Ian was a kind and compassionate man, an exceptional teacher and mentor, a wise leader, a distinguished scholar and a model of a community-engaged academic. He will be much missed.
Café historique: a gathering of interesting people in a convivial café setting, to hear and discuss new ideas about how the past has shaped our present and future, to drink, to eat, to converse, meet and make friends, and have an evening to remember.
The theme: in almost every decade there is a day or two that changes everything. Because of the events of these days, the world will never be the same. Each month in this series of café historique, a different UVic historian will introduce one such day in their area of expertise, the events that led up to it, and the how the events that followed transformed history and ultimately our world today. And then we open the floor for discussion and conversation….
Tuesday November 5th
7:00 pm, doors at 6:00pmHermann’s Jazz Club, 753 View Street
Dr. Jill Walshaw will present the second lecture in the series “10 Days that Shook the World”
Ezra Karmel, October 24, 2013
Ezra Karmel is a Graduate Fellow at UVic’s Centre for Global Studies and the Head of Research for the Jordanian CSO Identity Center
Damascus, locals say, does not measure its history in years or generations, but in civilizations. The evidence of these past lives is etched into its ancient walls and markets, which are now crumbling under the weight of war. The last two years have erased thousands of years of history, leaving the Syrian people as the last remnant of its legacy.
Those who have travelled to Syria will have experienced the unfathomable kindness and humility of a people that have witnessed the rise and fall of countless empires. Many will likely have also visited the famous Damascene café, where nightly (until 2011) the last storyteller of Syria, Mr. Abu Shadi, recounted age-old stories of empires past, whilst packed-in listeners smoked water pipes and drank Turkish coffee by the thimbleful. Those stories are no longer being told. They are vanishing along with the cities that gave them resonance.
Along with Syria’s famous mosques and bazaars, the Syrian people are being buried under the weight of the regime’s onslaught. Even those who have managed to escape Assad’s tank treads are being lost. They are being dispersed throughout the region and across the globe. Since violence erupted more than two years ago, over two million Syrians have joined the growing diaspora community.
Thus far, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has absorbed more refugees from this conflict than any other country. Daily, nearly 1 000 Syrians flee across Jordan’s northern border, seeking refuge from the conflict. In total, Jordan, a country with a population of over six million people, has received more than half a million Syrian refugees. This massive influx has drastically reoriented the demographic landscape of the small, ethnically divided kingdom. The third-largest city in the entire kingdom is now Za’atari, a Syrian refugee camp located in the North of Jordan.
The Syrian presence is also evident outside of the crowded, putrid streets of Za’atari. Jordan is being irrevocably changed, as more and more Syrians begin afresh within its borders. Along with their savings—which do not go far in Jordan’s vastly more expensive society—the refugees have brought only their culture. Yet this cultural influence has had a profound social impact; daily you hear the resulting quips: “Jordan is becoming a much friendlier place” or “the confectionary here is certainly getting a lot better.”
As with all jokes, there is a foundation of truth in these remarks. News stands, shops, and restaurants are popping up across Amman, the kingdom’s capital. One of these restaurants was opened by a Syrian chef who fled to Jordan with his family in 2011.
Syrians such as the chef have started new lives in Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom has graciously opened its doors and provided relative stability and safety to the Syrian newcomers. However, as Syrians grow accustomed to life in the conservative kingdom, growing anti-Syrian sentiments are also emerging. Due to the supposedly negative impact that Syrians have inflicted upon the economy and housing market, Jordanians are becoming increasingly hostile towards their new guests. In fact, while Jordanians were quick to condemn Assad when the conflict broke out, support for his regime is now growing, as many Jordanians see him as the best possible solution to the Syrian problem and the expedient return of Syrians to their homes.
To please its Western allies and maintain solidarity with its Arab brethren, Jordan continues to accept refugees. It does not, however, want its land to become a permanent home for fleeing Syrians. Jordan has been used as a dumping pile for refugees in many conflicts past; it refuses to once again be used as a pawn in superpower gambits. The wars with Israel and the conflicts in the Gulf brought wave upon wave of refugees to Jordan. They came as temporary guests, but made permanent homes.
The Syrian chef has been forced to close his restaurant. It is possible that he merely went out of business (his tabouleh was surprisingly cheap), although it is plausible that the Mukhabarat (Jordanian intelligence) forced his closure.
While the regime may not make life easy for the refugees, Syrians who have made a new home in Jordan are unlikely to pack up and return to a war-ravaged Syria the moment the conflict ends. The Syrian chef may have been forced to close his business, but he has since found employment elsewhere and is building a new life for himself and his family in Jordan. As with the end of the Iraq War, many of these refugees will decide to stay in Jordan after the conflict.
Even if it means living without citizenship or rights, some may choose to gamble on the security and affluence of Jordan. Countless Syrians who escaped the fate of being caught in no man’s land—between the bombardment of Assad and the opposing rebels—will, nonetheless, be lost from Syria.
As the war endures, Syria continues to lose its people—not just to death, but to the diaspora. If the war does not end soon, the Syrian culture that was once vibrant may disintegrate along with the bazaars and mosques of Damascus.
Thank you to Dan Posey, UVic History Department, for filming this presentation.
CALL FOR PAPERS
The 39th Annual Qualicum Student-Faculty History Conference will take place
FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 to SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2014
at the Quality Resort Bayside in scenic Parksville on Vancouver Island
The Program Committee welcomes paper proposals on all historical topics, regions, and time-periods, as well as ideas for innovative sessions and workshops.
Proposal deadline:FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013
► Proposals must be submitted online using the online submission form.
► Graduate students at B.C. universities will be given priority, but proposals from senior undergraduates and out-of-province graduate students are also welcome.
► Talks are normally 20 minutes long
► Please direct all enquiries to:
Dr. Jill Walshaw
University of Victoria
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