lunduniversity.lu.se

Joshka Wessels

Senior Researcher

Josepha Ivanka (Joshka) Wessels is an interdisciplinary scholar, human geographer and ethnographic filmmaker. She currently works on migration and Syrians in diaspora, Syrian documentary filmmaking and video activism prior and after the Syrian Revolution and sustainable development, water, heritage and the environment in the Middle East and North African (MENA) Region. She is in the final stages of writing a book about the history of documentary filmmaking and video activism in Syria.

Joshka Wessels has a PhD in Development Studies (2008) from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and a MA in Visual Anthropology (1996) from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Supervised by Professors Ton Dietz (UvA) and Tony Allan (SOAS), her PhD dissertation "To Cooperate or not to Cooperate" deals with collective action, cooperation and conflict with respect to the contemporary rehabilitation of ancient water tunnel systems (Qanats) in Syria. Consequently, she has conducted two postdocs at respectively Lund University and the University of Copenhagen. Between 2011 and 2014 she was based at the Peace & Conflict Studies Department under directorship of Professor Karin Aggestam at Lund University working on postdoctoral research about environmental peacebuilding and the local level of hydropolitics in the Jordan River Basin. Joshka innovatively used the application of serious gaming as an experimental participatory methodology to investigate the role of identity and cognition in decisionmaking processes with regard to transboundary water cooperation between the riparians of the Jordan River Basin; Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. From 2014 to 2016, she was based at the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) under directorship of Professor Ole Waever at the University of Copenhagen and conducted postdoctoral research on the role of YouTube and the history and development of digital video activism in northern Syria during the Syrian civil war and popular uprisings.

Theoretically her particular research interests are in phenomenological approaches to collective action, media studies, peace and conflict studies, visual perception and empathy, human ecology and the interdisciplinary synergies between natural and social sciences with respect to sustainable development and human ecosystems.

Empirically her professional experience spans a total of 20 years with research and long-term fieldwork experience in the Middle East and North Africa Region specifically in the rural areas of Syria between 1997 and 2002 and subsequent years 2004, 2010 and 2014. She conducted her first longterm period of anthropological fieldwork in 1995 in a refugee camp in Sudan for her MA thesis on communication and media in the Hai el Tadamon refugee camp in Gedaref, near the Ethiopian border. After that, she lived for five years in Aleppo, Syria between 1997 and 2002.

Professional work

Joshka has extensive professional experience working as both practitioner and researcher with international research institutions and universities. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Sciences, Lund University (2011-2014) and the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) at the University of Copenhagen (2014-2016). She is a Senior Fellow with CRIC and at the Centre for Syria Studies (CSS), at Saint Andrews University, UK. She has been guest lecturer at the Granada Film Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester and senior lecturer for the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) at the Univeristy of Wolverhampton, UK. Between 1997 and 2002 she was employed as an Associate Expert/Junior Professional Officer for the Dutch Directorate of Development cooperation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) seconded to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo, Syria. She has lived abroad in Syria and the UK and ran her own documentary film production company for over 10 years. She speaks Syrian Arabic fluently, besides other languages Dutch (mother-tongue), English, Swedish, German, French and she has a basic knowledge of Danish. Further professional travel, consultancy and fieldwork experience she gained in in Sudan (Darfur/Gedaref), Uzbekistan, Turkey, Syria, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Oman, North-Iraq, Iran, Kenya, Uganda,  Jamaica, Haiti, Surinam.

Artistic work

Next to being an academic scholar, Joshka Wessels is a professional filmmaker and her MA thesis in Visual Anthropology is accompanied with a short film documenting daily life in a camp for refugees of war from southern Sudan. Her PhD thesis is accompanied with three films produced during fieldwork. One film “Tunnel Vision” was broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide by BBC World in 2003 and Al Jazeera English in 2006. She has filmed and produced in total over 20 professional media projects for both broadcast and non-broadcast. She has produced media projects ranging from feature documentaries to interactive immersive Virtual Reality (VR) 360-video projects involving new media and interactive digital story telling.

Her film education entails a professional broadcast traineeship in Hilversum (1992-1993) and short courses at the National Film & Television School in London (2007). Her documentary filmwork has been supported by various film funds such as the UK Film Council, EU-Media, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNESCO and Television trust for the Environment and has been broadcast worldwide on BBC World and Al Jazeera English.

Since 2015, Josepha developed VR work combining stereoscopic 360 video with game engines such as Unity 3D. She directed the first stereoscopic 360-degree film in Skåne called “Flykten från Sverige". Since January 2017, Josepha is an expert teacher/trainer on 360-degree VR video production for Boost Hbg, Helsingborg. Josepha participated in many outreach activities for Lund University, such as the 48H for Syria, World Water Forum, World Water Day, Lund University Sustainability Week. She runs a blog called “Media, Water, War & Peace in the Middle East”. At Lund University she established a video production studio and introduced the use of film for social sciences. www.lum.lu.se/med-kameran-som-forskningsredskap/

Publications

Books (3)
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). Documenting Syria: Filmmaking, Video Activism and Revolution. IB Taurus.
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). Handbook for Sustainable Karez Renovation in North-Iraq. UNESCO.
  • Wessels, J. (2008). To cooperate or not to cooperate ? : Collective action for rehabilitation of traditional water tunnel systems (qanats) in Syria. Amsterdam University Press.
Articles (9)
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Introduction : The Digital Age Opens Up New Terrains for Peace and Conflict Research. Conflict and Society, 4, 125-129. Berghahn Journals.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Video activists from Aleppo and Raqqa as modern-day Kinoks? : An audiovisual narrative of the Syrian Revolution. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 10, 159-174. Brill.
  • Jebari, S., Berndtsson, R., Hashemi, H. & Wessels, J. (2016). Traditional irrigation techniques in MENA with a focus on Tunisia. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 61, 1346-1357. IAHS Press.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). “Playing the game”, identity and perception-of-the-other in water cooperation in the Jordan River Basin. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 61, 1323-1337. IAHS Press.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). YouTube and evidencing warcrimes; the role of digital video for transitional justice in Syria. Tidskriftet POLITIK, 19, 30-52.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). Challenging Hydro-hegemony: hydropolitics and local resistance in the Golan Heights and the Palestinian Territories. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 72, 601-623. Taylor & Francis.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). Down to the River: Identity, Citizenship, Security, Borders and Water at the occupied Golan Heights. Middle East Critique, 24, 269-287. Routledge.
  • Wessels, J. (2014). The Jordan River Basin Game; Steps towards sustainable river management in an insecure and conflictuous basin. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 1-19. Taylor & Francis.
  • Wessels, J. (2009). Water Crisis in The Middle East: An Opportunity for New Forms of Water Governance and Peace. The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 10, 131-142. Seton Hall University.
Book chapters (11)
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). The role of grassroots videos in conflict escalation. Routledge.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). From a state of shock to agency in liminality, Syrians and their children on the move. In Pace, M. & Sen, S. (Eds.) Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Society. Routledge.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Qanat Romani: the Rehabilitation of Ancient Underground Water Tunnels in Syria. In Thuessen, I., Andersen, N. & Kuhlmann Madsen, J. (Eds.) Water of Life (pp. 168-169).
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Qanats of Syria. In Angelakis, , Weingartner, , Chiotis, & Eslamian, (Eds.) (pp. 229-241). CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Valleys of Hope and Despair; peace building through independent environmental documentaries. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Wessels, J., Weingartner, H., Eslamanian, S. & Angelakis, A. (2016). Underground Hydraulic Works focusing on Tunnel Technology: Past, Present and Future.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). Syrian Masquerades of War. In Sylvester, C. (Ed.) (pp. 95-118). Routledge.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). Videooptagelser og den kollektive erindring : The role of video recordings in the collective memory of the Syrian Uprising. In Møller, B. & Schmidt, S. (Eds.) Konflikten i Syrien: årsager, konsekvenser og handlemuligheder. Djøf Forlags.
  • Wessels, J. (2012). Groundwater and qanats in Syria; Leadership, ownership and abandonment. In Johnston, B. (Ed.) (pp. 149-163). Springer.
  • Wessels, J. (2012). Water Use and Rights (Middle East and North Africa). Berkshire Publishing Group.
  • Wessels, J. & Hoogeveen, R. (2008). Renovation of Byzantine Qanats in Syria as a Water Source for Contemporary Settlements. In France, R. (Ed.) Handbook of Regenerative Landscape Design (pp. 237-263). Harvard University, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.
Conference contributions (36)
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Assessing feasibility of hydropeacebuilding in the Jordan River Basin using serious gaming and a human ecosystem approach.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Using a boardgame to study the role of identity, altruism and selfishness in decisionmaking processes of hydropolitics in the Jordan River Basin.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Water, Recognition and Resistance at the Golan Heights and the Westbank.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Anthropologists and their heart; empathy, love, compassion and alliances in a conflict zone.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Renovating qanats in Syria and Iraq; a retrospective of contemporary qanat rehabilitations between 2000 and 2010.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). The feasibility of ecological peace building in the Jordan River Basin for water and security; reflections from a local level.
  • Wessels, J. & Mourad, K. A. (submitted). Hydropolitics, Ecosystems and Syrian communities at the Occupied Golan Heights.
  • Wessels, J. & Mourad, K. A. (submitted). Playing the Jordan River Basin Boardgame (JRBB) with Syrian communities in the Occupied Golan Heights.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). A “Syrious” Game, hydromonopoly and local rural communitieis in the Occupied Golan Heights.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Ecological peacebuilding in the Jordan River Basin, a serious game.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Qanat rehabilitation as a viable tool for collective action for social development and conflict resolution in rural communities in arid areas.
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Valleys of Hope and Despair; peace building through independent environmental documentaries.
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). Valleys of Hope and Despair; peace building through independent environmental documentaries.
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). Qanat rehabilitation as a viable tool for collective action for social development and conflict resolution in rural communities in arid areas.
  • Wessels, J. (accepted/in press). The Jordan River Basin Game: Steps towards sustainable river management in an insecure and conflictuous basin.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). Syrians finding hope in Germany and the Netherlands; an in-depth comparative account of life histories and personal encounters with northern European welfare states.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). Working towards paradise; an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for environmental peacebuilding.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Every day peace: the ignored role of Civil Society in the Syrian Uprising.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). From a state of shock to agency in liminality, Syrians and their children on the move.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Rehabilitation of Historical Qanats in Syria and Iraq.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Digital anthropological fieldwork; investigating the role of digital video in the Syrian uprisings.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Everyday grassroots media activism in Aleppo and Raqqa, an audiovisual narrative.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). The ignored role of civil society in the Syrian War.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). The use of YouTube videos documenting human rights atrocities in Syria for future war crime tribunals.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). War, memories and Little Waterfall, a Syrian village that is no more.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). We used to be killed in the dark, now we are killed in the light; videos of violence in Syria.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). “We <3 You” or “We H8 you” ? Virtual spaces to “love the enemy” and to “make an enemy”.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). From no electricity to Skype and WhatsApp; when the Syrian War arrived at my doorstep.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). Inequality, humanitarian aid, peace initiatives and the rural-urban divide in the Syrian War.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). War, memories and Little Waterfall; a Syrian village that is no more.
  • Wessels, J. (2015). What we fear most is to die everyday: video activists in Aleppo and Raqqa, Syria : second draft paper.
  • Wessels, J. (2014). Between a rock and a hard place: popular uprise in Syria and its impact on Syrian communities living on the occupied Golan Heights.
  • Wessels, J. (2013). Daily life, Hydropolitics and Water in the Jordan River Basin.
  • Wessels, J. (2013). Ecological peacebuilding in the Jordan River Basin, a serious game.
  • Wessels, J. (2013). Local agency, water and power in military occupied territories near border areas: two case-studies from the Middle-East.
Reviews (5)
  • Wessels, J. (submitted). Book Review War As Experience: Contributions from international relations and feminist analysis, by Christine Sylvester. Peacebuilding. Taylor & Francis.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Book Review Syria from "Reform to Revolt, Volume 1: Political economy and International Relations" (eds.) Raymond Hinnebusch and Tina Zintl and "Syria from Reform to Revolt, Volume 2: Culture, Society, and Religion" (eds.) Christa Salamandra and Leif Stenberg. Nidaba: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle East Studies, 2, 80-83.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Environmental Law from the Policy Perspective: understanding how legal frameworks influence environmental problem solving by Chad J. McGuire. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 74, 356-357. Taylor & Francis.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Food Wars, (second edition) by Tim Lang and Michael Heasman (eds). International Journal of Environmental Studies, 74, 356-357. Taylor & Francis.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Media and Political Contestation in the Contemporary Arab World by Lena Jayyusi and Anne Sofie Roald. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, 2017, 87-90. Brill.
Articles in specialist publications and popular press (6)
  • Berndtsson, R., Jebari, S., Hashemi, H. & Wessels, J. (submitted). Traditional water management techniques – do they have a role in post Arab Spring Middle East?. Hydrological Sciences Journal. IAHS Press.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). Ahed Tamimi Is a Threat to Israel’s Public Diplomacy, Not Its Security. Muftah.org.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). How Assad tortures and kills Syria's pacifist young leftists. Open Democracy.
  • Wessels, J. (2018). Protests in Iran could spell trouble for the Middle East at large. The Conversation.
  • Wessels, J. (2017). White Phosphorus over Raqqa. Open Democracy.
  • Wessels, J. (2014). Qanats and Water Cooperation for a Sustainable Future. Middle East Institute.
Newspaper articles (5)
  • Wessels, J. (2017). Assad zet genocide strategie voort om oppositie uit te roeien. Volkskrant.
  • Wessels, J. (2016). Syrian Media Activist: 'It Is Terrible and Scary, Aleppo Has Become a Horror City. Global Voices.
  • Wessels, J. (2012). How to save and protect the silent majority in Syria?. EMAJ Magazine.
  • Wessels, J. (2012). Red de zwijgende meerderheid van Syrie. NRC Dutch Daily Newspaper.
  • Wessels, J. (2011). Wadi Fukin, a Valley of Hope and Despair. Palestine Note.
Miscellaneous (4)
  • Wessels, J. (2014). Hydroheritage Palestine Film. Lund University.
  • Wessels, J. (2014). Nationality Unknown.
  • Wessels, J. (2014). Nationality Unknown Film. Lund University.
  • Wessels, J. (2010). Valleys of Hope and Despair. Al Jazeera.

Foto: Håkan Röjder

Contact

josepha_ivanka.wesselscme.luse
+46 46 222 9160

LU Research Portal

Josepha Wessels

Keywords

Syria; Syrian Refugees; Film and Video Activism in Syria; Peace & Conflict Studies; Hydropolitics in the Levant; Environmental Peacebuilding; Human Ecology; Traditional Water Management; Qanats