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Maya Mikdashi

Co-Founder and Co-Editor

War is Here: The Lebanese Political Elites Unite Again

[Syrian Refugees Wait in Line to Register with UNHCR in Arsal, 2013. Image by UNHCR]

War is often understood as a temporally bounded event. A war begins, and eventually it ends. In the process, people are killed, maimed, starved, and traumatized; infrastructure is damaged; and life-worlds are destroyed. In such context, survival, not life, becomes the goal. Yet such an understanding of war is often duplicitous. For example, one might look to the Gaza Strip, where slow death under a globally-sanctioned siege under the temporality of a “ceasefire” is easily as ...

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Specters of Palestine: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

[Nahr al-Barid refugee camp in 1952. UNRWA photo]

There are at least 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a number that represents a quarter of Lebanon’s total population. This is the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in the world. Syrians are not the only refugee population in Lebanon. When considered alongside Palestinian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Sudanese refugees, the total refugee population easily represents a third of Lebanon’s current residents. Lebanon had no revolution, or sustained uprising, to contribute ...

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Quick Thoughts: Maya Mikdashi on the Lebanese Presidential Elections

[Lebanese parliament building. Image by rabiem22 via Flickr]

[On 31 October 2016, Michel Aoun was elected to the Lebanese presidency by a parliamentary majority. Aoun’s election ended a period of two years during which Lebanon functioned without a head of state on account of the inability of the country’s rival political coalitions to agree on a candidate. Jadaliyya Co-Editor Maya Mikdashi, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, elaborates on this crisis, its resolution, and the broader ...

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Fear and Loathing in Orlando

[Vigil in Orlando commemorating victims of Pulse Mass Shooting.

The drumbeats have started. Almost immediately after a mass shooting that left over fifty people dead on Latin night in a Florida gay nightclub, Pulse, the news shifted to the identity of the shooter himself. As soon as his name and the fact that his father immigrated (long ago) from Afghanistan was announced, the narrative began unfolding as Naeem Mohaiemen put it, on cue: This must be a terrorist attack. This is clearly an ISIS attack, or an attack pledging allegiance ...

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What A Queer Urban Future Looks Like: Beirut

[Beirut, Provincetown of the Middle East. Image from the New York Times]

The conditions of possibility for queer life and queer cities are never singular. Instead, these conditions of possibility are radically different for gender conforming and gender nonconforming people, and for cis men and women. They are also different for racialized displaced persons and refugees, and for racialized migrant labor forces. Moreover, as cities are historically specific and situated sites that are irreducible to each other (e.g., Beirut is not Istanbul is not ...

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Lebanon, August 2015: Notes on Paralysis, Protests, and Hope

[Protestors Clashing With Police: Image from AP]

The past ten years in Lebanon have been a study in political paralysis and escalating anger and frustration among citizens and residents of the country. To recap only the most basic of facts, since 2005 the country divided and polarized into two “camps”—March 14 and March 8, led by the Future Movement and Hezbollah, respectively. In these ten years there has been a war with Israel, armed clashes between these two camps, and a series of political assassinations. These years ...

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The Politics of Gendered Violence in Lebanon

[Protest in Beirut against violence against women. Image by Joelle Hatem]

Ali al Zein murdered his wife Sara Al-Amin on 18 May 2015. Her murder was shocking in its brutality. It is only one link in a long chain of visible and invisible violence against women in contemporary Lebanon. Structural conditions give birth to this violence. These conditions enshrine the legal impunity and social acceptability of female vulnerability to violence. Amin’s murder is an instance of intimate partner violence, the latest in a spate of wife killing across ...

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Farewell Sabah, 1927-2014

[Beirut newspaper stand, the day after Sabah died. Image by Ahmad Gharbieh]

Jeanette Feghali, known to millions across the world as Sabah, died last week at the age of 87.  By the time of her death, she had been a star for almost seven decades. Sabah began her career while still a teenager, moving from Lebanon to Cairo during the 1940s, the golden age of Egyptian cinema. Her image and voice are stored in more than eighty films, and by the time of her death she had recorded over three thousand songs written by generations of the region’s best ...

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Bassem Chit, R.I.P.

[Bassem Chit. Image from]

Bassem Chit died last week. He was thirty four years old. His heart attacked him while he was in his apartment. He died alone. Perhaps the important thing to dwell on is that he did not live a lonely life. Or at least, he made the world a less lonely place. For sure, he made being political in Lebanon a less lonely, less hopeless and less alienating way of being. This is no small feat in context where “being political” is most often equated with being partisan to one or ...

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August 11, 2014. Beirut

[Beirut in July, Image by Rabiem22]

From Beirut, the picture looks grim. Syria, Palestine, Iraq—all angry reds and blistering oranges. Here, we have the sea . . . the sea. Blues to drown ourselves in, greens and yellows to traffic us to another same day.  The ground swells, my fingers sweat. The center will hold, must hold. No sudden movements, no jagged breaths—enjoy the slack tightness of this rope. Anxiety, anticipation—it is coming—a tomorrow that will bring us closer to everything we already know. ...

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Persian Translation of Maya Mikdashi's 'Can Palestinian Men be Victims'

[Image by Arghavan collective blogspot]

آیا مردان فلسطینی می‌توانند قربانی باشند؟ خوانش جنسیتیِ جنگ اسرائیل علیه غزه هر صبح چشمانمان را بر لیست به‌روز شده‌ی قصابی می‌گشاییم: ١٠٠، ٢٠٠، ٤٠٠، ٦٠٠ فلسطینی کشته شده توسط دستگاه جنگ اسرائیل. این اعداد جزییات ناخوشایند بسیاری را می‌پوشانند؛ اکثریت مردم غزه یعنی یکی از پرجمعیت‌ترین و فقیرشده‌ترین مکان‌های جهان، پناهندگانی مهاجر ازسرزمین‌هایی‌اند که به لحاظ تاریخی به فلسطین تعلق دارند. غزه تحت محاصره‌ای قساوت‌بار ...

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Can Palestinian Men be Victims? Gendering Israel's War on Gaza

[In Gaza There's A Boy. Artwork by Mazen Kerbaj]

Every morning we wake up to an updated butcher’s bill: one hundred, two hundred, four hundred, six hundred Palestinians killed by Israel’s war apparatus as of this writing. These numbers gloss over many details: the majority of Gazans, one of the most populated and impoverished areas in the world, are refugees from other parts of historic Palestine. It is under a brutal siege, and there is nowhere to hide from Israel’s onslaught.  Before this “war” Gaza was a form ...

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Quick Thoughts: Maya Mikdashi on the Current Situation in Lebanon

[The Corniche of Beirut. Image by Roba Al-Assi]

[Amidst growing political polarization in Lebanon the term of President Michel Suleiman expired on 24 May with no successor in sight. Jadaliyya asked Co-Editor Maya Mikdashi to comment on the reasons for the vacuum, its ramifications and broader context]: Jadaliyya (J): Why has a new Lebanese president not yet been selected?  Maya Mikdashi (MM): I think everybody believed that Michel Suleiman, the outgoing president, would accept an extra-constitutional extension of ...

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لنمدح القتلة الآن...المرشحون لرئاسة الجمهورية في لبنان


من المقرر أن تجري الانتخابات الرئاسية في لبنان الأسبوع القادم، رغم حقيقة أنّ الانتخابات البرلمانية لم تحدث بعد، وأنّ البرلمان اللبناني هو الذي ينتخب الرئيس. في العام الماضي تم تأجيل الانتخابات للمرة الأولى في تاريخ الدولة، ومدد البرلمان بشكل غير شرعي فترته دون انتخابات، مما يثير المزيد من الشكوك حول شرعية التنافس الانتخابي الرئاسي الذي يحوم في الأفق.حتى الآن، عبّر عدة مرشحين رئاسيين محتملين عن اهتمامهم بالترشّح، وكلهم موارنة مسيحيون، وفقاً للنظام الدستوري اللبناني حيال تقاسم ...

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Let Us Now Praise Murderous Men; Lebanese Presidential Candidates, Considered

[Left to Right: Gemayel, Geagea, Maronite Patriarch Rai, Michel Aoun, Suleiman Frangieh. Image from]

Lebanon is slated to hold presidential elections next week, despite the fact that the parliamentary elections have yet to be held and it is the Lebanese parliament that elects the Lebanese President. Last year elections were postponed for the first time in the state’s history, and parliament illegitimately extended its own term in the absence of elections. This further throws into doubt the legitimacy of the looming presidential contest. Thus far, several ...

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Moral Panics, Sex Panics and the Production of A Lebanese Nation

[Snapshots from Lebanese Ministry of Tourism Videos, Compiled by Maya Mikdashi']

In the past few months sex panics and moral panics, centered on gendered bodies and abuses, have rocked Lebanon.  In this article I want to revisit three of these panics: photos of a semi-nude Lebanese Olympic Skier’s body and reactions to it; the impunity of wife murderers and wife abusers; and the razing of a Syrian makeshift refugee camp after (ultimately false) accusations of sex abuse by a camp resident of a mentally disabled Lebanese man. I bring these three cases ...

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داخل سيرورة الحلم: تخيّل لبنان مختلف

[منارة، بيروت 2011. تصوير فرنسيسكو انتونيس ]

لبنان محطّم سياسياً واقتصادياً واجتماعياً. بالإضافة إلى العنف الذي يستهدف اللبنانيين يومياً لأنهم يعيشون في مناطق يُقال إنها "تنتمي" إلى هذه الفئة السياسية أو تلك، فإن الحقد الديني والطائفي في تصاعد،  ويُدفع المزيد من الناس إلى البؤس والبطالة، فالمواطنون واللاجئون والعمال المهاجرون على حد سواء يتجمدون حتى الموت، أو يسحقهم الموت في الشوارع والخيام، وفي أبنية غير صالحة للسكن. ليس هناك حكومة لبنانية "شرعية"، ولا آمال لتشكيل واحدة في المستقبل المنظور. في ...

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Within The Dreaming: Imagining a Different Lebanon

[Manara, Beirut. 2011. Image by Francisco Antunes]

Lebanon is broken politically, economically, and socially. In addition to the violence that daily targets civilians for living in areas that are said to “belong” to this or that political faction, religious and sectarian hatred is on the rise, more and more people are pushed into poverty and unemployment, citizens, refugees, and migrant laborers alike freeze to death or are crushed to death on streets, in tents, and in unsound buildings. There is no (legitimate) Lebanese ...

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Teaching Thanksgiving

[Thanksgiving Crafts For Children, Draw The Indian Face. Image from Artists Helping Children]

On Thursday millions of families and friends and colleagues will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Universities will be closed, and classes will be cancelled. Every year, this holiday weekend poses challenges to professors and students who are critical, and critically aware, of the fact that Thanksgiving is, foundationally speaking, a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures in the United States. As a newly-minted ...

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Saudi Cleric Confirms That Being a Woman in Saudi Arabia Sucks, Big Time

[The Mufti of Saudi Arabia Smells Something Funny While Issuing Important Fatwas]

While all Saudis live under a hyper capitalist, sectarian and brutal authoritarian regime, a Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa making it official that being a woman in Saudi Arabia sucks extra bad. This fatwa comes after some confusion surrounding the physiological effects of driving. Last month a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa warning that driving effects the hips and pelvis of women, and thus their reproductive efficacy. After (some) men began worrying about the effects of ...

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Maya Mikdashi


Maya Mikdashi received her PhD from Columbia University's Department of Anthropology. She is Co-Director of the documentary film About Baghdad. Maya is currently a Mellon Postdoctural Fellow at Rutgers University. She  is Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.

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