Amy Austin Holmes is a professor at the American University in Cairo and a JHU Sociology PhD alum. She is author of two books: Social Unrest and American Military Bases in Turkey and Germany since 1945 (Cambridge University Press) and Coups and Revolutions: Mass Mobilization, the Egyptian Military, and the United States from Mubarak to Sisi (Oxford University Press).
Professor Holmes will present on her most recent research on Syria. The Syrian civil war is one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been key actors in the conflict. The SDF not only defeated the Islamic State caliphate, but have engineered a unique political experiment: an autonomous Self Administration outside the control of the central government in Damascus. The Kurdish-led Self Administration now governs about one-third of Syria. Professor Holmes is the first person to have conducted a field survey of the Syrian Democratic Forces based on numerous trips to all six provinces of North and East Syria between 2015-2019. She has constructed the largest existing database on the male and female combatants who fought against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The survey data allows insights into the conflict from a bottom-up perspective, and to compare the role of armed groups in conflict resolution, and the empowerment of women and minorities, in particular the recognition of Kurdish rights. This project builds off her previous work on the contentious politics of the American military presence in NATO allies and on the Arab Spring uprisings.