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Khayrallah Center Announces 2022 Winners of Alixa Naff Prize

The Khayrallah Center is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 Alixa Naff Prize in Migration Studies. The annual prize recognizes outstanding scholarly studies from any discipline focusing on Middle East migrations, refugees and diasporas. From a strong group of applicants, this year the selection committee awarded one prize and one honorable mention.

  • Book Prize Winner: Mari Toivanen
  • Honorable Mention: Céline Regnard

Book Prize Winner: Dr. Mari Toivanen

The 2022 Alixa Naff Book Prize is awarded to Dr. Mari Toivanen for her book The Kobane Generation: Kurdish Diaspora Mobilising in France.

Dr. Mari Toivanen works as Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki, Finland (2020–2025). She has conducted ethnographic research on Kurdish diaspora movements, transnational political and civic activities, generational dynamics, identity, belonging and political mobilization processes. Her recent publications have been published e.g. in Ethnic and Racial StudiesEthnicitiesSocial InclusionJournal of Genocide Research and Nordic Journal of Migration Research, and her open access-monograph focusing on the Kurdish diaspora mobilization in France was published in 2021 by Helsinki University Press. She has co-edited the volumes Methodological approaches in Kurdish Studies (Lexington) and Undoing Homogeneity in the Nordic Region (Routledge) and is the co-editor of the book series Transnationalism and Diaspora by the Edinburgh University Press.

In making its decision, the selection committee noted that: “In lucid prose, Mari Toivanen offers a comprehensive sociological account of a critically important yet understudied community: the multigenerational Kurdish diaspora in France. Through interviews, analyses of online material, and field observations of social events and environments in Paris, Toivanen situates the contemporary mobilization and activism of second-generation Kurds within a broader landscape of Kurdish transnational politics and transformative events, like the 2014-2015 siege that gives the “Kobane Generation” its name. The book is especially commendable for its sophisticated integration of sociological and political science debates on the concept of transnationalism through a rich case study of everyday people’s political activities, and their longings and belongings in diaspora.”

Upon receiving news of her award, Dr. Toivanen wrote: “I feel immensely honoured to be the 2022 recipient of the Alixa Naff Prize in Migration Studies for the book that sheds light to Kurdish political mobilisation in the 2010s, focusing also on questions of identity, belonging and homeland in the case of Kurdish migrants’ descendants in France. I warmly wish to thank the selection committee for this recognition. I sincerely hope that this recognition also draws more attention to Kurdish communities’ relentless courage and perseverance across generations, both in diaspora and in the homeland, to engage in political and civic activities that have and continue to contribute towards a socially more just world.”

2022 Honorable Mention

This year, the 2022 Alixa Naff selection committee awarded Honorable Mention to Dr. Céline Regnard’s book, En transit. Les Syriens à Beyrouth, Marseille, Le Havre, New York, 1880-1914.

Dr. Céline Regnard was born in Paris in 1977. After studying history at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, she followed her passion for police and justice archives and defended a thesis on violence in Marseille society at the end of the 19th century. While a professor of history and geography in Marseille, she was appointed assistant professor in modern history at the University of Aix-Marseille in 2007. Since then, she has been working in the TELEMMe research unit at the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme. She has focused her research on the history of migration, while developing a critical approach to the cosmopolitanism of Marseilles and the integrative capacity of Marseilles society. In 2015 she was awarded a grant from the Institut Universitaire de France to develop a comparative history project of Marseille and New York as cities of transit migrations. It was during this project that she became interested in the history of Syrian transit in these two cities. In 2020 she defended her habilitation to direct research, and shortly thereafter was appointed deputee director of the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme. Her other previous publications include Des bras au service de la France. Les Chinois dans la Grande Guerre, (avec L. Dornel), 2018, Empreintes italiennes. Marseille et sa région 1840-1940, (avec S. Mourlane), and Marseille la violente. Criminalité, industrialisation et société 1851-1914.

Upon receiving news of being selected, Dr. Regnard wrote: “I am particularly honored to receive Honorable Mention for the 2022 Alixa Naff in Migration Studies. Indeed, the book that is awarded this honor would never have been possible without my fellowship at the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies in 2017.  The hospitality of Dr. Khater and his staff, the people I met, and the advice I was given were crucial in my research. In particular, the discovery of Alixa Naff’s work and of the Faris and Yamna Naff Arab American Collection in Washington DC overwhelmed me personally and made possible my wish to write a history close to the men and women who lived this migration and these passages in the transit cities. This prize is also an important element to support the book translation project.”

You can watch an interview with Dr. Regnard here.