Dr. Estella Carpi lecture at the Lebanese American University: The Effect of Displacement on Religious Authorities from Syria

In March 2019 Dr. Estella Carpi, Research Associate of the Southern Responses to Displacement project, gave a lecture entitled ‘The Displacement of Religious Authorities from Syria and their Involvement in Aid Provision:  Looking Beyond Humanitarianism’ at the Lebanese American University.  There she presented preliminary findings of the Southern Responses to Displacement project and drew on her longstanding research into faith-based organizations and faith leaders working in Syria. In this post, Fidaa Al Fakih, Research and Project Assistant at the Lebanese American University, summarises Dr. Carpi’s lecture.  You can access the slides for this lecture here: DRAFS_Estella Carpi LAU Byblos March 27 2019

This blog was posted on 29/04/2019


If you find this piece of interest please visit our recommended reading list at the end of this post.

Beyond Humanitarianism Paradigm: The Effect of Displacement on Religious Authorities

By Fidaa Al Fakih

Lebanese American University’s (LAU’s) Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution (ISJCR) and the Department of Social Sciences hosted a seminar on “The Displacement of Religious Authorities from Syria and their Involvement in Aid Provision: Looking beyond Humanitarianism.”

The cross-campus seminar was based on the preliminary findings of Dr Estella Carpi, Research Associate of UCL’s Southern Responses to Displacement project.

Welcoming the attendees, moderator and ISJCR Director and Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Tamirace Fakhoury said the seminar sheds light on the under-researched topic of “how the displacement from Syria has affected religious authorities and how religious authorities have had to reinvent their mission and involvement in aid provision.”

Dr. Carpi then kicked off the seminar by explaining that the field research she has been conducting in Lebanon is part of a much broader project with Prof. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh of University College London under the framework of “south–south humanitarianism.” The research, she said, looks at southern agents of aid provision, particularly faith leaders or religious authorities who try to help their own displaced communities.

Dr. Carpi’s presentation built on her extensive research on faith-based organizations working in the Syria neighborhood, including her engagement with Syrian refugee faith leaders in Lebanon. “I relied on self-accounts of personal experiences in aid provision to the displaced communities once Syrian faith leaders became refugees themselves,” she said.

Dr. Carpi then mapped a geography of displaced religious authorities following their physical trajectories outside of Syria. She also focused on how displacement from war, violence and persecution reconfigures their spiritual role and their social status within receiving societies. By doing so, Dr. Carpi captured how the spiritual mission of such religious leaders changes in response to their own refugee status and their intent to provide aid, support and solidarity to the displaced communities.

Concluding the seminar, Dr. Fakhoury and Chair of the Social Sciences Department Marwan Rowayheb thanked Dr. Carpi for uncovering concepts of humanitarianism that shed light on new actors often overlooked by researchers when studying Syrian refugee challenges in neighboring host societies.

Dr. Rowayheb encouraged Dr. Carpi to account for the structural differences in the nature of the religious establishments in Lebanon, and to examine the competition between Lebanese religious authorities and displaced Syrian faith leaders that in some instances trigger sensitivities.

To access the slides used in Dr. Carpi’s lecture, click here: DRAFS_Estella Carpi LAU Byblos March 27 2019



The following blog posts explore faith-based assistance provision and southern-led humanitarianism:

Carpi, E. (2017) Localising Response to Humanitarian Need.

Carpi, E (2017) Does faith-based aid provision always localise aid?

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) Faith-based humanitarianism

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E. (2018) The Localisation of Aid and Southern-led Responses to Displacement: Beyond instrumentalising local actors

Wagner, A. (2018) There are no missionaries here!” – how a local church took the lead in the refugee response in northern Jordan

Link to the original news item: http://sas.lau.edu.lb/institutes/isjcr/news/index.php#69387

Featured image:  (c) Lebanese American University



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