Contemporary Levant best paper winner announced

We’re thrilled to announce that CBRL’s 2018 prize for Best Article submitted to Contemporary Levant has been awarded to final year PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, Ann-Christin Wagner.  

Ann-Christin’s winning paper is entitled: “Remapping the Holy Land from the Margins: How a Jordanian Evangelical church juggles the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in the Syrian refugee response”.  

The evaluating committee made up of members of CBRL trustees and Contemporary Levant’s editorial board, selected Ann-Christin’s paper for its outstanding scholarship that shed light on important issues that have been invisible in academic publications: namely the impact on local communities of refugee hosting and the effects of refugee hosting for inter-faith encounters. 

Here’s an abstract of Ann-Christin’s paper: 

Mafraq, a Jordanian border town, has been profoundly reshaped by the influx of Syrian refugees since 2011. As bigger aid agencies were initially absent from the humanitarian response, the gap was filled by faith-based organisations. In an academic and policy environment narrowly focused on security issues, Islamic charities have received considerable attention. However, little is known about the activities of Evangelical groups, let alone Arab Evangelicals, and how giving aid becomes embedded in wider religiopolitical projects. 

This paper discusses how the Mafraq Unity Church, an indigenous Evangelical congregation, balances its religious identity with an increasingly professionalized NGO “business”. Drawing on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in 2016/17, I argue that the church taps into resources from secular and non-secular transnational networks and gets entangled in two global projects: mainstream development and Evangelism. While the church markets its rootedness in northern Jordan to secular donors and aid agencies, appealing to the humanitarian sector’s recent “localization of aid” agenda, its benevolent activities are also framed as part of worldwide Evangelism. This allows Jordanian church officials to rhetorically shift the latter’s centre of gravity to the Global South and move Mafraq closer to the geographical and historical centre of Christianity. 

Ann-Christin Wagner is a final-year PhD student in the Social Anthropology Department at the University of Edinburgh and associated with IFPO Amman’s LAJEH project. During her doctoral studies, she was a visiting fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and Sciences Po, Paris. Prior to her PhD, she worked with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva 

 Ann-Christin’s article will be published in the upcoming issue of Contemporary Levant and at the CBRL annual general meeting held in December she will be presented with a certificate of recognition, £100 prize plus a one-year membership to CBRL. 

 Launched in 2016, CBRL’s peer-reviewed journal aims to foster research agendas that engage with and reflect current and emerging issues in the region. The journal has already gained an impressive readership with several articles clocking-up excess of 1,000 downloads.  

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