China Sajadian

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9773

Approve Date

October 30, 2018

Project Title

Sajadian, China S., City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'From Migrants to Refugees: Histories of Migration and Agricultural Labor in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon,' supervised by Dr. Mandana Limbert

Preliminary abstract: The tiny state of Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Yet, contrary to the dominant image of the deracinated, uprooted refugee encamped in an unfamiliar territory, significant numbers of displaced Syrians have long-standing ties to Lebanon. Focusing on the Syrian-Lebanese borderland region of the Bekaa Valley, this project explores the significance of a refugee crisis that is critically shaped by previous histories of migration. I ask: How do theorizations of displacement shift when considering the predicament of refugees who are also former labor migrants? What kinds of new social relations, inequalities, and notions of obligation emerge when wartime renders former itineraries of cross-border migration difficult or impossible? How do communities long-dependent on temporary migrants transform when the migrants are no longer temporary? Based on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in a cluster of agricultural borderland villages, the project will examine how a loss of cross-border mobility for Syrian labor migrants throughout the Syrian war has reconfigured agrarian labor relations. In particular, the project analyzes what appears to be a wartime resurgence of sharecropping, which will be situated within a longer historical analysis of agrarian tenure and labor in the region. Through a focus on the understudied case of ‘migrants-turned-refugees,’ the project ultimately proposes to expand and rethink dominant scholarly framings of refugeeness as a unique type of displacement. Combining insights from critical agrarian studies and migration studies, this research recasts the classic ‘agrarian question’ as a ‘migrant question’ in order to develop a broader theory about agrarian transformation and mobility in times of war.