Doctoral Dissertation Research: Ritual, Network Formation, and Governance among Displaced Communities

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project investigates the political-economic and the ethical dimensions of Syrians' quests for a proper
burial in Lebanon in years following the 2011 mass migration of Syrians to the country. It looks at the
ways in which the scarcity of burial spaces in Lebanon, in conjunction with increasing restrictions on
crossing the Lebanon-Syria border, have mobilized legal and illegal networks of Syrians' traveling dead
within the borders of Lebanon and on the route from Lebanon to Syria. These burial networks consist of
both Syrians and Lebanese and expand beyond the access of the Lebanese state and humanitarian
agencies. This study aims to answer two interrelated questions: 1) How does the mobilization of these
burial networks alter the political-economic, social, and spatial order of life vis-a-vis death and further
transcend the legal frameworks of local, national, and transnational modes of governmentality, and state
territoriality? 2) In what ways does the quest for a proper burial, and the subsequent formation of burial
networks, reformulate the tension between legal and ethical, and shift Syrians' perceptions of homeland,
proper life, and death, and their future aspirations, while helping them survive war and exile? Attending
to the triangulation of Syrians, Lebanese locals, and state and NGO staff and officials, this project
ultimately explores the shifting conceptions of life, death, ethics, and geography in the face of war and
displacement, while tracing the alternative and lesser-recognized ways that displaced communities heal
and survive. In so doing, it gets at the core of how communities suddenly brought together relate to one
another, beyond the national, religious, sociopolitical, and legal boundaries, in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Effective start/end date4/1/193/31/22


  • National Science Foundation (BCS-1851195)


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