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Interventions

Communication Research and Practice

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Edited By Adrienne Shaw and D. Travers Scott

This volume brings together a range of papers that fruitfully engage with the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in San Diego, California: Interventions. Here "intervention" points to a range of communication practices that engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or socio-cultural practice, in order to alter and disrupt events and the norms and practices that contribute to their occurrence.  Interventions prohibit events from proceeding in a "normal" course. Interventions approach or critique practices and phenomenon resulting from tensions or absences occurring in: events, structures, (institutional governmental, media industry), discourses, and socio-cultural and subcultural events. Intervention presents the opportunity to explore boundaries, assumptions and strategies that appear to be different or irreconcilable, viewing them instead as possibilities for productive engagements. Communication interventions—in both research and practice—insert insights from diverse voices, marginal positions, emerging organizational practices and digital technologies, to broaden and enrich dialogue. Interventions bring complex reframings to events and phenomenon. Interventions seek to alter a course and effect changed practices in a range of spheres: governmental and social institutions, cultural and nongovernmental groups; industry and organizational life, new media and digital spaces, socio-cultural environments, subcultural groups, health environments, affective and behavioral life, and in everyday life.

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13. If These Walls Could Speak: Borders and Walls as Communicative Devices (Nour Halabi)

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13. If These Walls Could Speak: Borders and Walls as Communicative Devices

NOUR HALABI

Studies of the Syrian Revolution, and the armed conflict that has since transpired, have considered the conflict with an eye to sectarian, environmental, geopolitical and other factors. In this chapter, I draw from the conviction that all events that characterize the revolution are inevitably emplaced (Gieryn, 2002, p. 264) to situate the crisis in its historical spatial context, conducting a historical spatial analysis of the built environment in Damascus and its impact on the siege of Mouaddamiyya, a Damascene suburb. In so doing, this paper directs attention toward the heretofore overlooked consequences of spatial ordering on the development of Syrian and Damascene identity, the impact of such socio-spatial cleavages on the current crisis, and the role of walls and borders as communicative devices that embody political power and convey cohesion and protection within, and othering and threat outside their boundaries.

The town of Mouaddamiyya, located a mere six kilometers from central Damascus, is one of the closest “satellite” towns that surround the Syrian capital and supply it with livestock, food, and labor (Starr, 2012, p. 10). Mouaddamiyya’s proximity to the capital likely motivated the Syrian regime’s swift crackdown to contain protests surrounding Damascus. As such, government forces laid siege to the town from 2012 to 2016, limiting access to food, medical supplies, water, electricity, heating fuel, and other necessities. Regime forces allowed brief,...

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