Dr Susann Kassem

Dr Susann Kassem

Postdoctoral Research Officer in Middle East Studies (OSGA)
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Susann Kassem is currently a Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Officer in Middle East Studies at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA). She holds a PhD in Anthropology and Sociology from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She also has an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University of Beirut and a B.A. in European Ethnology and Area Studies Asia/Africa, 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 PhD analyzes the conceptualization and practices of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, one of the oldest and largest peacekeeping forces active today. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in rural south Lebanon between 2009–15, 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 analyzing borders as social processes enacted through the views, practices and identities of border communities in addition to more obvious forms of state policy and border policing.

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

Selected Publications: 

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