Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Peteet, Julie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bertacco, Simona

Committee Member

Bertacco, Simona

Committee Member

Marshall, Gul

Committee Member

Bowman, Brad

Author's Keywords

humanitarian aid; middle east; Armenians; Palestinians; Iraqis; world war I; world war II; Oslo Accords


The objective of this dissertation is two-fold. One is to critically consider humanitarian aid delivery to and through Syria via a lens that combines the humanities and social sciences. The fields of anthropology, political science and postcolonialism are employed to accomplish this. The second is to investigate the process involved in this delivery amid the country’s ongoing conflict. Combining these two facets provides a view of humanitarian aid as it relates to the conflict in Syria while applying a liberal arts-humanities approach. The introduction establishes the basis to discuss the existence of aid providers and those in need of aid in the midst of civil wars. The connective relationship between them is not a straight line. There are many boundaries that make aid transfer difficult if not impossible. To explain this, the introduction presents a brief historical survey of Syria’s civil war. Additionally, the concept of sovereignty is viewed in circumstances of civil war as a concern of international intervention. Lastly, the circumstance of besiegement is reviewed in its capacity to empower and limit. Chapter One reviews relevant literature for this examination while articulating an interdisciplinary analytical model applied to the other chapters. The model merges concepts and methodologies resulting from reviews of global relations, humanitarianism, and postcolonialism as they relate to humanitarian aid in the eastern Mediterranean region. Chapter Two historically reviews aid to Armenians, Palestinians, and Iraqis. Doing this allows a comparative and thorough understanding of assistance in this region over the last 100 years. Chapter Three presents the results of in-person interviews of both Syrian aid workers and Syrians in need of assistance. It specifically presents analysis and information from the interviews that demonstrate the disconnect that frequently existed between those trying to help Syrians and Syria’s residents who sadly were beyond the capacity of aid’s grasp.