Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies, American University of Beirut

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Survival and Normativity: Kin Relatedness among Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

This research project explores the fabric of family norms in the Palestinian refugee community of southern Lebanon. Locating myself in Tyre, I will examine the suffering and creativity involved in carrying on an ethics of family life in the ever provisional and shifting environment of refugee camps. Recent philosophical and anthropological works posit the refugee as essential for theorizing the margins of current global politics. In this project, I extend this analytic to the fabric of intimacy, relatedness and political subjectivity in contemporary Middle East, by focusing on everyday patterns of sociality that emerge in such environments of prolonged uncertainty and instability. In doing so, I seek to bring to light the multiplicity of regimes for being 'modem subjects' in the Middle East, while complicating the picture of refugees as solely embodying the horrors of political violence and forced displacement. I also seek, more largely, to contribute to a re-conceptualization of the Arab family, taking into account the long-term effects of political violence in the area. I will approach the Palestinian family not as a necessarily secure ground for experience and meaning, from which personal and collective projects could be cast outwardly, as it were, into the future and the polity at large; but, rather, as a specific mode of delimiting and instituting a viable milieu in conditions of continuing or even growing political and social uncertainty. Finally, my project will speak to current debates regarding the normativity of social life-the capacity for newness to emerge, in circumstances of crisis, at the heart of long-established norms-in relation to the task of survival in environments of high entropy.