Border Lives: An Ethnography of a Lebanese Town in Changing Times

Chairs: Dr Susann Kassem (St. Antony's College) & Dr Darci Sprengel (St John’s College)

Speaker: Professor Michelle Obeid (University of Manchester)


This book presentation explores the ways residents of a northeastern town on the border of Lebanon with Syria ex­perienced postwar sociality, and how they grappled with living in the margins of the Lebanese state in the period following the 1975–1990 war.

The ethnography presented traces the meanings of ‘changing times’ among locals by investigating how macro changes, such as restrictions in cross-border mobility, transformations in physical and social spaces, changing liveli­hoods through the burgeoning of new industries and shifting political alliances, were inflected in intimate spheres thus producing divergent ideologies about domesticity and the family, morality and personhood. Attending to metaphors of modernity in a rural border context, the book broadens the sites in which modernity and social change can be investigated.


Michelle Obeid is a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. She has done ethnographic research in Lebanon and the United Kingdom focusing on issues related to postwar sociality, livelihoods, state and borders and kinship and gender. She is currently working on her second book entitled Migration as Anchorage: Eth-nography of Palestinians in London.