Author: Lamia Moghnieh
Number: Working Paper No. 2
Date: December 2018
Based on research on the humanitarian knowledge practices of violence, trauma, and the politics of suffering in Lebanon, the author in this article explores what an ethnography of living-in-violence can offer to our understanding and conceptualization of violence. The author shows the need to theorize critically the experience of living-in-violence in relation to dominant portrayals of violence as an experience of encounter. Reading violence in conflict sites is the work of experts who encounter violence ‘in the field’ (like humanitarian workers, ethnographers, psychologists and military personnel/fighters) as well as communities who live in violence. However, the work of reading violence in the everyday serves to delineate the conditions of possibility for liveability and precariousness. It also serves to normalize experiences of certain kinds of violence while others are produced as traumatic. Drawing from several ethnographic moments and writings on violence, the author asks: How can ethnography capture the experience of living-in-violence? And what is its analytical importance? How can an ethnography of reading violence help us make sense of different experiences of violence as distinct forms of knowledge production?
Keywords: violence; war ethnography; Lebanon; living-in; encountering; expert knowledge; trauma
About the Author
Lamia Moghnieh received her PhD in social work and anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her dissertation addressed the politics of humanitarian psychiatry, violence and trauma in Lebanon. In 2016/17, Moghnieh was a postdoctoral fellow of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS), affiliated with the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut. She is currently a Fellow at the Europe in the Middle East, the Middle East in Europe (EUME) at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, Germany.
* The copyright of this work is retained by the author.