Anna Simone Reumert
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationColumbia U.
Grant numberGr. 9840
Approve DateApril 29, 2019
Project TitleReumert, Anna (Columbia U.) "The Etiquette of Migration: Sudanese Labor Practices and Genealogies of Servitude in Lebanon"
This project examines the social and historical processes through which generations of Sudanese men learn to labor as migrant workers in Beirut. Scholarship on migrant workers in global structures of exploitation rarely addresses how migrants are shaped, gendered and racialized through histories of labor (Cheah 2007, Mezzadra & Neilson 2013). Associated specifically with black male servitude, Sudanese male migrants inhabit a particular niche both in Lebanon’s economy and in a trans-regional racial imaginary as al-Sudani, echoing an imperial history of Sudanese servitude. Yet in preliminary research I have observed that al-Sudani is also a term of communal self-identification among Sudanese male migrant workers in Beirut. Through ethnographic and oral history work with Sudanese migrants in Beirut and Khartoum, I examine the relationship between al-Sudani as both a category by which Sudanese workers are identified in Lebanese society and a mode of self-identification by which they associate with one another. In pursuing a social history of black diasporic life in the Arab Mediterranean that demonstrates a migrant community’s self-governance, this project seeks to challenge historically contingent notions of belonging. As such, the Sudanese migrant experience opens new conceptual and ethnographic terrains for addressing the intersections of racialization, labor, gender and migration.