CALL FOR PAPERS in Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies


Business People in War Times and Alternative Economies and Exchange during Armed
Full Text Submission Deadline: 1 March 2021
Contact e-mails: e.akcali@swansea.ac.uk and gormuse@mef.edu.tr
Since summer 2015, the unfolding 'migrant/refugee crisis' has generated significant media attention
and presented dilemmas for policymakers, national governments and societies. The narrative
surrounding those seeking asylum and refugee status has simultaneously constructed these 'migrants'
as a threat to the stability and sovereignty of nations and states whilst also evoking a duty of
protection for those fleeing persecution in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst others.
Millions of 'migrants' have risked their lives in the hope of building a better future in Europe, but EU
and national policymakers have proved themselves unable or unwilling to develop a coordinated
response citing concerns for border security, belonging, humanitarian intervention, and identity. The
debates on geographies of immigration, in this process, remained very essentialist reflecting on the
"irreconcilable differences" between the immigrants and the new host societies rather than interfacing
of a range of social actors and regimes governing forced migration at borders (Ho 2016). In an
attempt to move beyond oversimplified and often policy-oriented categorizing of types of
displacement, Hammar (2014, 3) highlights the paradoxes of displacement where "opening occurring
as well as closures; dislocation and movement at the same time as confinement and stuckness;
creation as well as destruction; wealth accumulation alongside impoverishment."
The Syrian conflict for instance has had a profound impact on the business community in
Syria. According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR 2015, 28), both public and private
investment dropped to 9.2 per cent of the GDP in 2015. The long-continued war led to widespread
closure and bankruptcy, and many businesses experienced a sharp decline in production due to the
sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the League of Arab States. Some
businesses on the other hand, adapted to crisis situation and relocated their enterprises within Syria
from the conflict zones to the "safe areas" in the Mediterranean coastal cities of Latakia and Tartus
with the encouragement of the regime. Due to the severe economic recession and intensive conflict, a
significant amount of Syrian capital flight funneled to Turkey and the wider region (most notably,
Jordan, Lebanon, UAE and Egypt). After one year of conflict, more than one-fifth of all deposits in
private banks left the system in Syria. In 2013, profit losses of six of Syria's fourteen private banks
were between forty to ninety-five per cent (Abboud 2013).
This special issue aims hence to cover case studies in order to analyze displaced business
peoples' economic activities and their motivations in general for engagement in their places of origin
and the host countries. This is because capital flight constitutes one of the most important dimensions
of wars and conflicts and influences considerably the current course of the (post-) conflict processes.
Overall, it plays a tremendous role in the emergence and articulation of an interconnected social,
economic and political spaces and practices. We invite papers to this end that aim to examine the
impact of the increasing capital flows in the host country economies. We aim to inspect the factors
that contribute to the capacity of the refugee business communities to organize as interest groups vis-
à-vis the host states regarding their commercial interests as well as their political rights. We also
would like to explore the engagement of business diasporas in assisting the process of conflict
resolution and (post-) conflict reconstruction processes in their conflict-ridden countries of origin.
Finally, we're interested in the alternative ways in which economic exchange takes place during
armed conflicts such as the hawala system and any other informal money transfers and trade
exchanges that exist beyond and below globalised capitalist flows.


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