With twenty years of fieldwork in Damascus and an upcoming book, Making Do in Damascus: Navigating a Generation of Change in Family and Work, Sally K. Gallagher has a strong understanding of the current issues taking place in Syria. Gallagher, a professor of sociology at Oregon State University, is the author of Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life and Older People Giving Care: Helping Family and Community, as well as numerous journal articles on gender, family, and caregiving. In her Huffington Post article on August 8 titled “In Syria, Simply Replacing al-Assad is Not Enough,” Gallagher draws from personal experience to analyze conflicting issues in the recent Syria scare.
“As a sociologist who studies family and social change I have spent innumerable hours over the past two decades talking with women in Damascus. Neighbourhoods where I lived and formed friendships among ordinary Syrians are now regularly in the news — Jobbar, Tadamun, Midan, Douma, Sayida Zeinab, Shaalan, Jisr al-Abyad, Abu Roumaneh, and Mezze. Friends and contacts in some of these areas send updates via email or postings on Facebook. They can’t sleep because of the noise of shelling and gunshots now closer to home. Those who are fortunate have relatives in calmer parts of the city or in villages nearby where they can escape the chaos and skyrocketing prices of a city under assault.
Having listened to families across a range of social strata describe their hopes and struggles and concerns for a secure and better future, I believe there are two important aspects of the current conflict that have been omitted from much of the public debate. The first is that entrenched economic interests that cut across various religious and ethnic communities have been largely overlooked by the popular press and policy makers in favor of a singular focus on religious strife. Second, in order for the Syrian people to see their way to a democratic future, the culture of fear that has pervaded every aspect of Syrian life for two generations needs to be addressed. Both of these will have profound and lasting impacts on the outcome of this conflict.”
Gallagher’s Fall 2012 book, Making Do in Damascus: Navigating a Generation of Change in Family and Work, is to be published in September. In this she traces ordinary women’s experiences and ideas across decades of social and economic change to highlight the collective identity, place, and connection within generations of Damascus families. This work offers a rare portrayal of ordinary family life in Damascus, Syria and explores how women negotiate a sense of collective and personal identity from cultural ideals around gender, religion, and family. Author Lisa Pollard describes Making Do in Damascus as, “”Engaging and well-written. . . . An important contribution to scholarship on families in the Middle East.” Visit our website for more information on this title.