Why This Book?

What is the difference between media ‘information’ and gossip or hearsay? Images of vulnerable communities may be misleading and misrepresented and therefore need to be challenged. Lifelines - Syrian Womanhoods in Transition do just that. Co-participants’ life stories speak strongly to my soul. I believe they will speak as powerfully to others who read them.

With this new book, I hope to build bonds, to promote trust, and to contribute to healthy relationships based on love and sharing among locals and ‘strangers.'  The media domination of an unrepresentative stock image (e.g., ‘the Syrian refugee’) needs constant questioning and so do the sources and components of this thing called fear or anxiety. We need to remember that the media editors’ main job is to present readers/viewers with a single shocking image. But images only articulate a fragment of an issue or a person’s story. They create the illusion of comprehension of an event or an individual. This book will inform the reader through details and subtleties that provide a fuller context than what is normally presented. 

While compiling this book, my co-participants and I have had many moving moments. Narratives of death, separation, birth, love, and longing… With each story shared, we experienced simultaneous pain and joy. The experience is and will be a constant reminder of power and importance of a global womanhood that exceeds language, ethnicity, religious belief, denomination, and age differences. The establishment of a genuine solidarity between the researcher/author and the narrator/co-participant was crucial and transformative for both sides. We might have different destinies and histories, but we as women have more in common than we do not. Men and male-identified individuals are more than welcome to take part in our journey.


I hope that through these life stories, I manage to extend the borders of legitimate scholarship toward a more practical, emotional, and aesthetic importance to human well-being. I am responsive to a different call of conscience and feel responsible for and passionate about issues of human survival, justice and fulfillment.

Jean Paul Bourdier

Special Thanks: Asma Khalifa, Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) team, the Core Ezer Family, Dilara Demir, Joanne Chan, Jude Deason, Mellon Foundation, Nadina Christopoulou, Nilgun Yildirim, Sallie Bingham, Sevil Sahutoglu, Mavisu Demirag, Ozge Balkaya, Youssef Kubis, and all the Syrian women who replied my emails when I reached out to them and supported the project even when they were unable to participate in it. Dianne Walker (a compassionate refugee activist and friend) suddenly left this world on Oct. 03rd 2017 after connecting me to several people through her network (Berkeley Refugee Resources). I am indebted, and I know she will be missed deeply.

Lifelines: Syrian Womanhoods in Transition | Ozlem Ezer | Berkeley CMES