Lara Deeb F'20, F'09

Lara  Deeb
Professor
Anthropology
Scripps College

ACLS Fellowship Program 2020
Professor
Anthropology
Scripps College
Beyond Sectarianism: Interreligious Marriage & Social Difference in Lebanon

“Beyond Sectarianism” analyzes the stakes of interreligious marriages and the social discord they create, using Lebanon as a case through which to explore how sectarianism in the Middle East seeps into everyday life. Countering popular assumptions that sectarianism is an essential age-old feature of the region, this book reveals one of the ways it is produced and perpetuated through interpersonal interactions. Based on over two hundred interviews, “Beyond Sectarianism” also sheds ethnographic light on the relationships among gender, class, geography, and sect, upending assumptions about sect as the core of identity in Lebanon. In so doing, the book analyzes both sectarianism’s impact on social relationships and the way such relationships can reinforce sectarian practices and ideas. It provides new insight into how sect is reproduced as a salient marker of social difference in Lebanon, and increasingly, across the Middle East.

ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships 2009
Associate Professor
Anthropology
Scripps College
Constructing and Negotiating the Islamic Milieu: New Moralities and Spatialities in Shi‘i Lebanon
(with Mona Harb, American University of Beirut)

This project explores the relationship of the Shi‘i Islamic milieu in Lebanon to notions of “culture,” appropriate leisure, and spatial production. It asks how do various select sites—an ecotourism facility, a series of ‘family-oriented” amusement parks, and cafes and restaurants in Beirut—map onto spaces in Lebanon and how do different groups inhabit and/or appropriate these spaces? Who is involved in producing and experiencing these spaces and what notions of “culture,” appropriate leisure and spatiality do they deploy, redefine, and challenge? What is the relationship of the growing Islamic milieu and its leisure sector to the consumption practices of the emergent Shi‘i middle-class? In answering these questions, this project, and the resulting co-authored book and articles, will contribute to scholarship on Islamic movements, urban space, leisure, and consumption, as well as scholarship on Islam and Lebanon. Both Lara Deeb and Mona Harb have published extensively on the Shi‘i Lebanese community and especially on the southern suburbs of Beirut. They bring to this project different research networks, methodological and theoretical approaches, and groundings in bodies of scholarship (English, French and Arabic). As a cultural anthropologist, Deeb’s work has taken an ethnographic approach, and has been theoretically grounded in literatures on modernity, gender, and public spheres in relation to Islam. As a political geographer, Harb’s work has analyzed qualitatively the role of political and religious organizations in local urban governance and service delivery, bringing together urban sociology and politics with theories of social mobilization, public action and political legitimization. The field research phase of the collaboration was supported by a Wenner-Gren International Collaboration Research Grant (1/2008-6-2009). Award period: September 1, 2009 – July 1, 2011