Upcoming events

TALK by Dr. Sarah Tobin

Understanding Early Marriage: Amplified Agency, Decreased Regulation, and Structural Violence of Syrian Refugees in Za’atari

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Location and time: B5.12 at 17:00 – 18:30

See abstract of presentation:  Sarah Tobin Talk Announcement and Abstract


SYMPOSIUM Navigating Displacement and Humanitarian Responses: Discourses and Experiences of Syrian Refugees and Aid Providers in Jordan

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Roeterseiland Campus, University of Amsterdam

Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018WV Amsterdam

Room B5.12

Registration required. 

See full program, presentations and information here: Displacement and Humanitarian Responses Program

Since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, many Syrians have been displaced inside and outside of the country. Jordan has been one of the major receiving states, and refugees have settled in camps, as well as in urban and rural areas throughout the Kingdom. In fact, Jordan has a long history of hosting refugees from the region, such as Palestinians and Iraqis. Development and aid organizations have played an important role in managing and providing services to refugees in Jordan. As elsewhere, these organizations have affected, shaped, and transformed refugees’ experiences of displacement (Olivius 2017; Shabaneh 2010).  Refugees themselves have also devised strategies of survival and adaptation to their new circumstances, often actively approaching and challenging these organizations (Cabot 2016; 2012; Gabiam 2012; Jansen 2008; Malkki 1996).

This workshop seeks to generate a critical conversation on the interaction between displaced communities in Jordan, particularly Syrians, with development and humanitarian organizations that offer them various services. It has become increasingly crucial to examine these interactions given the precarious and vulnerable position of refugees, and the pressures under which aid organizations, as well as hosting communities, find themselves.


CONFERENCE Religious Marriages in the Mediterranean

20-21 March 2018

Mediterranean Institute, University of Malta.

This two-day conference is organised by the University of Malta through the Department of Civil Law and the Mediterranean Institute research group on Belief, Identity and Exchange in conjunction with the ERC-funded research project on ‘Problematizing “Muslim Marriages”: Ambiguities and Contestations’ hosted by the University of Amsterdam.

For conference announcement and more information, visit the website of the University of Malta.

Within Mediterranean settings, religious marriage has functioned for centuries, together with conversion, as a means both of formal social incorporation and of exclusion of outsiders in relation to religiously-defined officially-recognised ethnic communities. Such an approach was an integral part of the Ottoman constitution; aspects of the millet system continue to have some posthumous existence in states like Lebanon and Cyprus. Over the last century or so, the development of secular or ‘quasi-secular’ nation-states throughout the region has generally meant the replacement of religious by civil marriage within state legal systems.
Whether this has occurred via silent absorption or principled exclusion of religious unions, or even by the creation of dualist systems giving civil marriage pride of place, the juridical implications have been profound and range from the complete legal marginalisation of previously dominant religious traditions to the creation of ‘protected zones’ within secular jurisdictions within which religious law can operate. Everywhere religious courts have been side-lined and have either been completely eliminated from the formal state’s radar, or compelled to accept a subordinate position within the state judicial hierarchy. At the same time, formally secular forms of marriage with religious conceptual roots have had to serve as important gate-keepers in granting or withholding access to citizenship and legal residence in states like Greece, Malta or Spain, which have been at the forefront of Mediterranean migrant flows.
More recently unregistered religious marriages have gone through a revival, proving also to be a useful vehicle for addressing mismatches between state legislation and the matrimonial strategies of couples. Thus the Mediterranean, a point of both intersection and mixing where ideas about the ‘West’ and its ‘other’, are re-produced and transformed, has witnessed how these transitions resulted in either a tense relationship between marriages regulated by formal, state laws and religious marriages celebrated according to informal, religious norms, or on the other end of the spectrum, civil marriages and (certain) religious marriages living harmoniously side-by-side and at times also being considered synonymous.


This multidisciplinary conference seeks to bring together researchers who have engaged in research on religious marriages in the Mediterranean.

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