Roxana Aras

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9752

Approve Date

October 24, 2018

Project Title

Aras, Roxana M., U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Everyday Confessionalism and Olfactory Aesthetics: The Case of the Rum Orthodox in Beirut,' supervised by Dr. Paul C. Johnson

ROXANA M. ARAS, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on ‘Everyday Confessionalism and Olfactory Aesthetics: The Case of the Rum Orthodox in Beirut,’ supervised by Dr. Paul C. Johnson. This project applies a complex nexus of sensorial aesthetics, social networks, and lived religion on the case of the Rum Orthodox in Lebanon. Here the researcher asks how members of this Arab Christian minority negotiate their identity through sensory codes, discursive representations, and urban material culture. With archival and ethnographic research conducted between 2019 and 2020, the researcher locates the work within the multi-confessional environment of Beirut, disrupted by sectarian conflicts, nationwide uprisings, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a grand narrative of Orthodoxy as a ‘way of life,’ it focuses on two intertwined dimensions of religion as lived experience. First, it investigates how Rum Orthodox authenticate their identity through religious practice that combines particular sensorial aesthetics, ethical sensibilities, and scripted traditions. Second, it explores Rum Orthodoxy as a dynamic, everyday social practice that engenders and reflects specific sensory registers, affective dispositions, and cultural categories. Here, the Rum Orthodox sensorially negotiate their status as a religious minority in everyday social interactions, within the urban topography of Beirut, and through regimes of precarity and uncertainty.