Department of Politics - Princeton University Princeton University

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria

On October 25, 2017, Wendy Pearlman discussed her new book entitled We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria.

This talk was cosponsored by the Workshop on Arab Political Development (WAPD), the Qualitative Research Colloquium (QRC), The Democracy and Development Research Initiative and the Comparative Politics Colloquium at Princeton University and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS).

Abstract: We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria is an oral history of the Syrian uprising and war based on interviews conducted from 2012 through 2016 with more than 300 displaced Syrians across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Beginning with a chapter on life under the regime of Hafez al-Assad, it moves to describe changes in Syria after Bashar al-Assad’s assumption of power, the launch of protests in 2011, the government’s subsequent crackdown, the escalation and militarization of the rebellion, everyday life under conditions of war, and experiences of forced migration — solely through the words of ordinary people who lived these events. “It was the revolution that allowed me to see people for who they really are,” one woman comments near the book’s closing. “It showed me that every Syrian has a hundred stories in his heart. Every Syrian is himself a story.” We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a journey into some of those stories. For a preview of the book, see excerpts published in the June issue of Harper’s Magazine.

Wendy Pearlman is the Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, where she specializes in the comparative politics of the Middle East. She is the author of three books, We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins 2017), Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003), as well as dozens of essays, academic articles, or book chapters. Pearlman holds a BA from Brown University, an MA from Georgetown, and a PhD from Harvard. She has studied or conducted research in Spain, Germany, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.