Stories of the Syrian New Scots: Digital Storytelling in COVID-19 Refugee Arts

Graphic mashup using Canva. Five figures atop a hill emerging from an open book.


Please note: this event will be held in person and live-streamed for attendees online. For those who attend in person, there will be refreshments and a chance to network after the event.


Syria now has the largest forcibly displaced population worldwide, with 6.6 million Syrians forced to flee the country since 2011. In the twenty-first century Scotland has become a celebrated, if controversial, site of refugee resettlement through the landmark New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy (2014-2017 & 2018-2022). This paper explores how a distinctive culture of storytelling which developed amongst Syrian refugees resettled in Scotland through theatre performances, festivals, and community writing initiatives was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic when public performances and community workshops were no longer possible in person. It traces how Syrian New Scots’ storytelling practices adapted during consecutive national lockdowns in the pandemic through digital platforms accessible across dispersed geographies of resettlement in Scotland. As it considers how digital arts have provided vital forms of community building through lockdowns and resettlement processes, it argues that this Syrian-Scottish context demonstrates the diversifying potential of digital programming while at the same time reflecting on key issues of digital exclusion.

Speaker Biography

Dr Annie Webster is a Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow at IASH and from February 2023 will be a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the English Literature Department at the University of Edinburgh. She completed her Wolfson-funded PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, in 2020. This research, which she is now developing as a monograph, explores the affective economies of contemporary Iraqi fiction and how it has circulated as ‘world literature’ in the wake of the 2003 Iraq War. Her current research project, which she will be undertaking over the next few years at Edinburgh, extends her research interests in how literary movements develop in the wake of conflict as it investigates storytelling practices among Syrian refugees resettled in Scotland. While at IASH, she is researching one strand of this project that focuses particularly on modes of digital storytelling among Syrian New Scots.

Booking Information

This event will take place in the Digital Scholarship Centre and streamed on Zoom. When you register, please indicate if you will join in person or online. Online attendees will receive an email closer to the event which will provide the link to the webinar. Please use the same email for registering with Eventbrite and when logging into Zoom.

Event Information

The online part of the event is a webinar, which means that attendees’ microphones and cameras will be off. There will be opportunities for participants to turn their microphone on and ask questions during the discussion. This event will have live captions. Please inform us of any access requirements by emailing Further details about how CDCS uses your information obtained from booking onto our events can be found at in our Events Privacy Statement.

As of March 2022, the government formally removed all Covid restrictions in the UK. We ask that you continue to be considerate of others’ personal space, and please do not attend if you feel unwell or have any of Covid symptoms.

Digital Scholarship Centre

Digital Scholarship Centre, 6th floor
Main Library 
University of Edinburgh 
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ

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