Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorthwestern U.
Grant numberGr. 9756
Approve DateOctober 24, 2018
Project TitleFarhang, Foroogh, Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'The Travelling Dead: Syrians in Lebanon and the Political Economy of a Proper Death,' supervised by Dr. Jessica Winegar
Preliminary abstract: 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: First, how does the mobilization of these burial networks alter the political-economic, social, and spatial order of life vis-à-vis death and further transcend the legal frameworks of local, national, and transnational modes of governmentality, and state territoriality? And second, 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? 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.