Michelle Obeid

Michelle Obeid


Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

I am interested in supervising doctoral projects focusing on the following themes:

• The anthropology of the state and political transformation (with a specific focus on the Middle East)

• The anthropology of borders, mobility, migration and diaspora

• The anthropology and of kinship, family and relatedness 

• The anthropology of food, agriculture and livelihoods.



Current Phd Projects

Politics of Persuasion: Making and Unmaking Revolution in Iran (Ahmad Moradi)

Living ‘Free and Real’: An Eco-Project's Endeavours Within and Against Late Capitalism (Elvira Wepfer)

Role of Shi`a Media Producers and Mourning Songs in Kuwait (Nada Al-Hudaid)

Good Food and Good Living: Contestations among FamilyFarming in Northern Tunisia (Sara Pozzi)

Imagining Future: Agency and Temporality among Kurdish Returnees in Iraq (Lana Askari)

From Social and Sacred to Scripted and Staged: Devising Theatre withBritish Muslim Youth in Manchester (Asif Majid)

Enduring Waithood: Youth, Temporality and Social Navigation Among Young Women in Mitrovic (Rozafa Berisha).

Completed PhD Projects

'Who is the City For?’ Civic Advocacy, Private Interest and Statecraft in Contemporary Beirut (Alice Stefanelli)

Ethics in Extraordinary Times: Islamist Youth and Moral Becoming in the Aftermath of Political Loss and Catastrophe in Egypt  (Hanan Benadi)

Extraordinary Continuities: Crisis, Deprivation, and Provisioning in Xanthi, Northern  Greece (Phaedra Bakalaki).

Made to Fall Apart: An Ethnography of Old Houses and Urban Renewal in Beirut (Samar Kanafani) 

Reconciling Boundaries: Deconstructing Virginity in Contemporary Urban Turkey (Patricia Scalco)

A Bargain for Power: Mass Organisation in Totalitarian States – The Case of the General Union of Syrian Women (Esther Meininghaus)

The Politics of Religious Leadership in Modern Lebanon (Alex Henley)

The Women Piety Movement in Nablus City: A Practice Theory Approach (Ferial Khalifah).


After completing my PhD in Anthropology at the London School of Economics in 2006, I took up a four-year Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, at the University of Manchester in 2007, before becoming a full-time Lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology in 2011. I have conducted ethnographic research in northeastern Lebanon and London, focusing on postwar border sociality, livelihoods, kinship, displacement and home.

Between 2012 and 2016 I served as Director of the new BA in Social Science Programme  in which I set up and convened an exciting undergraduate degree programme that crossed over six departments (anthropology, sociology, politics, philosophy, social statistics and criminology).


International Collaboration and Public Engagement

I have had longstanding collaboration with the Environmental and Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) at the American University of Beirut. My PhD project was part of the unit’s multi-disciplinary ten-year action research project entitled ‘Sustainable Improvement of Marginal Lands in Lebanon.’ Recently, I was delighted to contribute to the ESDU’s new Masters of Science in Rural Community Development programme by designing and teaching their qualitative research methods course in 2015.

I have collaborated with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) on several projects. Together with Emerging and Conflict Related Issues Division (ECRI), we worked on ‘Creating the Conditions for the Formation of a Representative Taskforce to Draft a National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) in post-war Lebanon’ in 2011. With Un-ESCWA’s Sustainable Development and Productivity Division, we collaborated on the report ‘Key Issues for Consideration on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Agenda’ presented at the Arab Regional Implementation Meeting for the 20th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development – Follow-up on RIO+20 in Dubai in 2013.

I set up and launched the Council for British Research in the Levant’s (CBRL) Contemporary Levant in 2016, a new multidisciplinary journal that publishes original research on contemporary politics, society and culture in the Levant region, its diasporas and neighbouring countries. I have since then served as Editor-in-Chief and I have been a member of the CBRL’s board of trustees since 2013.

Research interests

Keywords: postwar sociality; livelihoods; state and borders; kinship and gender; mobility, displacement and home

My research has sought to understand the ways in which people figure out how to live in the aftermath of social rupture. This broad question has framed the two main research projects that I have been involved in.

My first project focused on postwar sociality in a Lebanese town at the northeastern Lebanese/Syrian border where I explored how residents experienced and engaged with what they were calling ‘changing times’ in the aftermath of Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990). I followed the social processes, institutions, and practices that the residents felt had changed most since the outbreak of the war. My research interlaces large-scale socio-economic and political changes at the border with people’s intimate lives, thus showing how shifts in livelihoods, reconfigurations of family, new ideologies about domesticity, piety, love and marriage are all inseparable from state-society relations and the specific regional history of the northeastern border of Lebanon with Syria. As a result of this work, I published a number of book chapters and journal articles and have written a manuscript entitled Border Lives: An Ethnography of a Lebanese Town in Changing Times.

My second project focuses on a Palestinian family displaced during the 2008 Gaza War and their experiences in creating a new home in London. My research is interested in the different trajectories of settling and how these shape everyday practices that create a sense of holding fast in otherwise fluid times and places. By examining these migrants’ life projects, how they embedded themselves in their neighbourhoods, engaged in multicultural activities and negotiated their legal entitlements with state officials, my research explores how new migrants anchor themselves in new social worlds and the part they play in shaping those worlds. I was awarded the BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowships 2018, which will support me in completing my manuscript entitled Migrants in Anchorage: an Ethnography of Palestinians in London.




Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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