Dr Susann Kassem

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow


Susann Kassem is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow with the Middle East Centre and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. She was previously a Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Officer at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the Geneva Graduate Institute, an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University of Beirut, and a BA in European Ethnology and Area Studies Asia/Africa from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Her research examines the role of international interventions carried out in the name of peace in the post-Cold War era. Her book project The Global North in the Global South: The Practices of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon analyses the role of United Nations Peacekeeping in the contemporary world order by looking at one of the oldest and largest peacekeeping forces active today. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in rural south Lebanon between 2009–19, it tracks how UN peacekeeping merges military activities with civilian practices of economic, civic, and cultural engagement in an attempt to implement an idealized political order in the former colonial world. Her current research project uses methods of oral history and historical ethnography to explore the formation of political subjectivities during the multiple reorganizations of everyday life and forced migrations under the shifting borders and systems of rule in south Lebanese frontier villages. It contributes to a growing literature analysing borders as social processes enacted through the views, practices and identities of border communities in addition to other forms of state policy and border policing.

Research and expertise: Modern Middle East; ethnography; development; colonialism; military intervention; peacekeeping; war and peace; politics, religion and sectarianism; borders; the state; displacement; sovereignty; and migration.

Selected Publications: 

UNIFIL’s “Blue Line” Demarcation: Spatial Ordering, Political Subjectivity, and Settler Colonialism in South Lebanese Borderlands, International Studies Quarterly, Volume 68, Issue 2, June 2024, sqae051, https://doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqae051.

“Israel’s Looming Threat: Death, War and Displacement in Lebanon” Focaalblog 22 February, 2024. https://www.focaalblog.com/2024/02/22/susann-kassem-israels-looming-threat-death-war-and-displacement-in-lebanon/.

“Death, Displacement and Trauma: The Human Cost of War in Southern Lebanon” 24 January, 2024. Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. https://timep.org/2024/01/24/death-displacement-and-trauma-the-human-cost-of-war-in-southern-lebanon/.

“The Struggle for Power in Southern Lebanon: Israel, Hizbullah, and the UN Peacekeeping Forces”, in Kuroda, Ayaka (editor). Society, Politics and Ideologies in the Modern Arab East: A Trans-Asian Academic Roundtable (AJI Books). Osaka: Asia-Japan Research Institute, Ritsumeikan University, 2023.

Peacekeeping, Development and Counterinsurgency: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and “Quick Impact Projects”” in Land of Blue Helmets: The United Nations and the Arab World, edited by Vijay Prashad and Karim Makdisi, University of California Press, 2016.