Women, men and children in Syrian camps and prisons – Migration, War and Repatriation

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop/seminar


Since the demise of ISIS in 2019, thousands of women and children from Syria and abroad, are being held in detention camps in northeast Syria. This includes about a 1000 Europeans (including 640 children) from countries such as Denmark, France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. The conditions in these camps are widely considered to be inhumane, unsafe and unhealthy. A few countries such as Kosovo and Tajikistan have repatriated most of their nationals while others have only repatriated a small minority of women and children in a very haphazard way. Although many of these women are often associated with ISIS, there is a large diversity among them in terms of age, migration trajectory, establishment in Syria, their activities and the kind of faction they were affiliated with (if at all).

This workshop wants to bring together a select group of scholars from a variety of academic backgrounds and countries working on themes such as repatriation, citizenship, critical security, racism, and activism in relation to the women and children in the detention camps.

The purpose of the workshop is to connect the innovative research about the women and children in Syria and those already repatriated, to recent academic discussions on migration, criminalization and victimization, citizenship and security from a critical perspective. In doing so, the workshop will go beyond the strong focus on national security but instead investigate the political repercussions in terms of debates about European identity, the governance of migration and citizenship.

The main scientific questions being asked aim to further explore:
a) how matters of international law, child protection, security, home and (national) belonging become redefined (or not) through political debates about the position of the women and children and their repatriation,
b) how ideas about exceptional and (un-)acceptable risk operate in these debates,
and c) the entanglements between these two debates.

We will additionally also attend to the wider, collateral effects on the families and immediate surrounding of the women and children who travelled to Syria. Our observations indicate that the state’s response isn’t limited to those who travelled abroad but also goes much more broadly. By bringing together scholars from different academic traditions and disciplines, the research being done in each can be synthesized to help link and further the academic debates by discussing the central theme as a lens onto questions pertaining to citizenship, the human, inclusion / exclusion and to create possibilities for societal impact.

Furthermore, by doing this the workshop wants to contribute to international network building (Academics for Repatriation network) on this complex and sensitive theme. This is a crucial academic contribution as most scholars engaging with these questions work alone in their respective institutions and are potentially at risk of becoming a target of all kinds of attacks in the media.
Period2 May 2023
Held atAcademics for Repatriation network, Netherlands