From shame to pride: the politics of Shawi identity in contemporary Syria

Haian Dukhan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article is about the word Shawaya. Before the Syrian uprising, many Syrians used the term Shawaya in a derogatory manner when referring to a class of people perceived as backward, uneducated and vulgar. However, during the course of the Syrian uprising and subsequent civil war, self-identification as a Shawi (the singular of Shawaya) became more prevalent among people belonging to this group of Syrian society. The Syrian uprising created a space for Shawaya to express their identity openly. As the Syrian uprising turned into a protracted conflict, the Shawi identity transformed into a political one as it became associated with the rural-urban divide characterizing the conflict. This article aims to explore the social and political implications of the word Shawaya in contemporary Syrian political culture by exploring the term and attempting to show how members of this group today express their Shawi identity both politically and socially.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalMiddle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Issue number4
Early online date8 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


  • Syria
  • Syrian Civil War
  • Identity
  • Tribes
  • Rural
  • Urban


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