The description is submitted to:


Session C5035 (Everyday Life of Sectarianism in the Middle East: Ambivalent Articulations of “Sectarian” Difference and the “Other”), 2017
Drawing upon ethnographic insights from the predominately Sunni city of Saida, Lebanon, I am particularly interested in the moments of crisis that prompt people to occasionally step back and reflect on whether their own actions have slipped precipitously into the realm of "sectarianism." The ethical reflection that ensues reveals that in addition to its dimensions as a political system and an ideology, sectarianism – and attempts to be non-sectarian – can be thought of as everyday practices. For example, within the realm of charitable NGO work within Saida, such ethical reckoning can be prompted by the donation of money to an NGO with the specification that the funds be distributed “to Muslims only.” These concerns intersect with class-based, religious and/or secular identities. Relatedly, I am concerned with the ways in which certain practices come to be construed as “sectarian” within Lebanon, whereas the same practices in London or Jordan might be experienced in a completely different light – for example as moments of transnational striving, connecting to one's heritage, or of strengthening a global umma.