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Maya Mikdashi - Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism and the State in Lebanon

Sextarianism

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room, 111 Thayer Street

Registration Required As seating in the McKinney Conference Room is limited, priority will be given to the Brown community.  We will note your response, and you will receive final confirmation three days prior to the event.

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The Lebanese state is structured through religious freedom and secular power sharing across sectarian groups. Every sect has specific laws that govern kinship matters like marriage or inheritance. Together with criminal and civil laws, these laws regulate and produce political differences. But whether women or men, Muslims or Christians, queer or straight, all people in Lebanon have one thing in common—they are biopolitical subjects forged through bureaucratic, ideological, and legal techniques of the state.

With this book, Maya Mikdashi offers a new way to understand state power, theorizing how sex, sexuality, and sect shape and are shaped by law, secularism, and sovereignty. Drawing on court archives, public records, and ethnography of the Court of Cassation, the highest civil court in Lebanon, Mikdashi shows how political difference is entangled with religious, secular, and sexual differences. She presents state power as inevitably contingent, like the practices of everyday life it engenders, focusing on the regulation of religious conversion, the curation of legal archives, state and parastatal violence, and secular activism. Sextarianism locates state power in the experiences, transitions, uprisings, and violence that people in the Middle East continue to live.

More Information

Center for Middle East Studies

Maya Mikdashi is an associate professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University. Her first book Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism and the State in Lebanon (SUP, 2022) theorizes the relationships between sexual difference and political difference, the religious and the secular, and law, bureaucracy, and biopower. Her work is grounded in ethnographic and archival research. Maya has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Journal of Palestine Studies, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. She has also been published in peer-reviewed edited volumes and in public-facing venues. She is a co-founding editor of Jadaliyya.