Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Maya Mikdashi – Afterlives of a Census: Inheritance, History, and Biopower in Contemporary Lebanon

Thursday, February 14, 2019

4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

The Public Council at the Courts of Cassation is the final arbiter of jurisdiction disputes in Lebanon. The highest court that citizens have recourse to, the Council frequently rules on unresolved cases spanning fifteen different personal status laws and court systems. Its archives demonstrate the interface of personal status, civil, and criminal law. This lecture will focus on one of these archival case files, an inheritance dispute litigated by three generations of one family. Spanning a hundred years of documents, this case reveals legal continuities and ruptures across juridical regimes and invites us to rethink the enduring legacy of Lebanon’s first and only population census, conducted under French mandate in 1932. Drawing on archival research and ethnography of state institutions and civil servants, Maya Mikdashi explores state power and subjectivity through an emphasis on contingency, unknowability, and stubbornness.

Maya Mikdashi ia assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University.

Middle East Studies