Defiance in Exile
Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan
134 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268201173 | September 2021
Hardcover | 9780268201166 | September 2021
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268201180 | September 2021
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268201159 | September 2021
This book offers a glimpse into Syrian refugee women’s stories of defiance and triumph in the aftermath of the Syrian uprising.
The al-Zaatari Camp in northern Jordan is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, home to 80,000 inhabitants. While al-Zaatari has been described by the Western media as an ideal refugee camp, the Syrian women living within its confines offer a very different account of their daily reality. Defiance in Exile: Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan presents for the first time in a book-length format the opportunity to hear the refugee women’s own words about torment, struggle, and persecution—and of an enduring spirit that defies a difficult reality. Their stories speak of nearly insurmountable social, economic, physical, and emotional challenges, and provide a distinct perspective of the Syrian conflict.
Waed Athamneh and Muhammad Musad began collecting the testimonies of Syrian refugee women in 2015. The authors chronicle the history of Syria’s colonial legacy, the torture and cruelty of the Bashar al-Assad regime during which nearly half a million Syrians lost their lives, and the eventual displacement of more than 5.3 million Syrian refugees due to the crisis. The book contains nearly two dozen interviews, which give voice to single mothers, widows, women with disabilities, and those who are victims of physical and psychological abuse. Having lost husbands, children, relatives, and friends to the conflict, they struggle with what it means to be a Syrian refugee—and what it means to be a Syrian woman. Defiance in Exile follows their fight for survival during war and the sacrifices they had to make. It depicts their journey, their desperate, chaotic lives as refugees, and their hopes and aspirations for themselves and their children in the future. These oral histories register the women’s political outcry against displacement, injustice, and abuse. The book will interest all readers who support refugees and displaced persons as well as students and scholars of Middle East studies, political science, women’s studies, and peace studies.
Waed Athamneh is associate professor of Arabic studies at Connecticut College. She is the author of Modern Arabic Poetry: Revolution and Conflict (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).
Muhammad Masud is assistant professor of Arabic studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Ebrahim Moosa is the Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies at the University of Notre Dame.
“The stories found within Defiance in Exile are an altogether human story of our species’ ability to enact unimaginable harm and suffering, while simultaneously illuminating the human capacity for hope and empathy. Athamneh and Masud are masterful storytellers, and they narrate the lives of the individuals they encounter with an emotional richness that brings the reader into the experiences without any hint of voyeurism.” —Hillary J. Haldane, co-editor of Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence
“Defiance in Exile provides compelling first-person testimony of Syrian women’s experiences in the al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The accounts are vivid and well-presented, and we need to hear such voices to counteract the often hostile rhetoric about Syrian refugees that one hears in North Atlantic countries.” —Kim Shively, author of Islam in Modern Turkey
"If there is a 'must read' book inspired by what has happened to Syria and Syrians over the past decade, this is it. In telling the gripping stories of Syrian refugee women dealing with dispossession while leading their families and affirming themselves, Defiance in Exile speaks with penetrating insight and jarring directness to each one of us. No one will come away from reading this book unmoved or unchanged." —Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, diplomat-in-residence at Bard College and former US special envoy to Syria
"This hortatory collection of Syrian women refugees’ stories, this j'accuse against the evil Asad regime and a willfully oblivious world, is a call to awareness and action. Can you read these stories of loss, madness, despair, claustrophobia, and resilience without screaming that something must be done?" —Miriam Cooke, author of Dancing in Damascus
"Defiance in Exile is a powerful testimony of hope despite war, unimaginable heartbreak, and economic hardship. It is a book that delivers on its promise to truly reveal what it is like to be in a refugee camp. And it closes with a profoundly moving message of the need to care for and be in solidarity with the oppressed." —Dawn Chatty, author of Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State
"If you want to be aware of the desperate life of Syrian refugees living in camps outside their lost home country, this book is a must. Defiance in Exile reflects an urgent call to do something about the Syrian refugee crisis." —Nikolaos van Dam, former ambassador of the Netherlands and special envoy for Syria and author of Destroying a Nation