In this essay, I provide a different perspective on the Syrian conflict by examining how the war’s reach can also be located amid the losses, interruptions, and experiences of those Syrians who have until now largely escaped its incredible violence. By looking closely at how the war has altered the life trajectories of and produced distinct modes of vulnerability for military-age men, I develop an argument about how, although they avoid fighting by going to work in Qatar, the lives of a group of Syrian men remain defined by conscription. Through my investigation of how these men are located in a landscape of conscription that extends beyond the borders of Syria, I build on anthropological knowledge of how masculinity is shaped by and through contexts of political destabilization. I demonstrate how, in fulfilling their end of the patriarchal bargain through political obedience and economic production, these men lose a particular stage of manhood and the aspirations, projects, and affective promises it holds.

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Published in Cultural Anthropology, v. 35, no. 2.

© American Anthropological Association 2019

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