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 ACSS Academy


Call for Applications

The ACSS is pleased to announce the call for applications for its first ACSS Academy to be held in July 2021 in Lebanon. The ACSS Academy will be a biennial event organized by the Council to provide an opportunity for junior researchers in the Arab region to engage with critical theory and analysis, advanced writing, professionalization skills and networking. The Academy will include around 60 participants and around 15-20 faculty and lecturers.

Deadline for Applications: 2 February 2020

Goals of the Academy:

  • Preparing junior researchers for cross-disciplinary research that critically interrogates social and humanistic research questions

  • Explore guiding concepts in Arab critical thought

  • Understand genealogies and canons of leading theories and frameworks relevant to the region

  • Constructively evaluate academic research and writing

  • Collaborate with peers from across the Arab region

  • Incorporate learnings from the academy into research by participants

  • Provide a space for participants to present their research and receive verbal and written feedback from the faculty members as well as from other participants

  • Bring participants and faculty members together in order to discuss issues around publishing, teaching and other professional concerns

Eligibility criteria:

  • Post MA and up to 3 years out of PhD

  • Research experience or ongoing research (whether individual or part of an institutional project)

  • Proficiency in Arabic is a must (ability to read and speak)

  • Citizens and/or residents of an Arabic country (defined as a member of the League of Arab States)

Themes of the ACSS Academy:

  1. Critiques of Power

  2. Critical Security Studies

  3. Ethnography as Knowledge Production

Academy Program

Three complementary teaching strategies will be adopted:

  1. Thematic sessions: This will involve lectures by core faculty and guest lecturers to introduce participants to the above-mentioned themes and the ways in which critical research within these themes can be conducted. Faculty members will also present their contribution to these themes and their ongoing work.

  2. Mentoring sessions: The purpose of these sessions is for participants to present their research within smaller groups and to receive written and verbal feedback from faculty members as well as their peers.

  3. Writing sessions: Participants will work on further conceptualizing their research topics based on the thematic and mentoring sessions.

The program also includes the following:

  • Trainings: These will involve particular research and writing skills taught in small groups and dividing participants according to their skill levels (topics to be confirmed later)

  • Fieldtrips: This includes site visits, walking tours and/or public events. These activities serve as case studies for the issues to be explored during the Academy and will be conducted in collaboration with Lebanese researchers, practitioners, and activists.

  • Professionalization sessions: Participants and faculty members will come together to discuss issues around publishing, fieldwork, teaching, and other professional concerns.

  • Panels/Mini-Conference: In the final two days of the Academy, participantswill present their research projects to the full audience of participants and faculty members in the final two days of the Academy.

  Application Process: 2-step selection process

First Step: Preliminary Application (due on Feb 2, 2020). Please complete your profile on the ACSS application platform before submitting an application. 

  1. Cover letter (500 words) including:
    -Personal biography
    -Professional career objectives and work experience
    -Research experience

  2. Application form with specific questions (250 words each):
    -What are your expectations and needs out of the ACSS Academy?
    -Which working group and why?
    -What is the relevance of your research project to your chosen working group and how does your research project relate to your career trajectory?

  3. CV

Second Step: Full application (due on March 31, 2020)

1. Research proposal (10 pages)

2. Skills assessment

3. Specific questions on your understanding of critical approaches in the social sciences

4. Written work/ sample (preferably published work)

5. Interview 


Deadline for preliminary applications


Notification of First selection

March 2020

Deadline for full application


Notification of Final selection

April 2020

Submission of final documents and readings

1- June-2020

ACSS Academy

1-11 July 2021



ACSS will cover:

  • Airfare/ accommodation on a double occupancy basis/ meals/ airport transfers/ visa costs/ travel insurance

All personal incidental expenses are NOT covered by the ACSS and are the personal responsibility of the participant.

Duration of the ACSS Academy:

  • 16 days from July 1- July 11, 2021


  • Lebanon: First week will take place in Beirut and second week in Byblos (to be confirmed)


Description of ACSS Academy Working Groups:

About the Critiques of Power Working Group:

The Critiques of Power working group (CoP) was formed in 2017. The CoP brings together scholars from diverse fields, including anthropology, social and intellectual history, gender and sexuality studies, political science, and comparative literature. The CoP aims at interrogating the archives of Arab critical and theoretical productions in order to examine modalities of power in Arab societies. The working group thus engages in intergenerational and interdisciplinary conversations to excavate, contextualize and rethink tools that could address urgent questions for our present times.

The CoP working group has engaged with questions related to critical praxis in the majority Arabic speaking region, including alternativearchiving practices, feminist thought, critical translation, Arab Marxism and more generally, the relations of knowledge production to colonialism, postcoloniality and socioeconomic institutions.

For more information on the broader project, visit this page on the ACSS website

The CoP organized the Forum on Alternative Archival Practices in 2018 and the Arab Critical Theories workshop in 2019.

Topics covered at the ACSS Academy:

  • Feminist and Marxist thought from the Arab world: examining the foundations of Marxist and feminist thought in the Arab world, the frameworks they work within or disrupt, and their genealogies, waves and traditions.

  • Criticallyengaging key global, local and regional theories and debates: excavating theoretical tools for critical praxis and exploring methods of interpretation across different texts.

  • Expanding the archive of critical Arab thought: investigating multiple ways of reasoning and the particularities of genres and mediums, from critical texts to memoirs, pamphlets and new media.

Learning Objectives

  1. Introduce participants to key intellectual debates in critical theorizing from the region

  2. Introduce participants to alternative archives that critically engage with questions of power

  3. Introduce participants to different critical tools, genres and methods that explore questions of power

Confirmed Faculty from the CoP working group include:

Toufoul Abou Hodeib is Associate Professor of history at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation, and History of the University of Oslo. Her research and teaching interests lie at the interface between culture and politics in the twentieth-century Middle East. She has previously taught at the University of Chicago and University of Oxford, and has published in the International Journal of Middle East History and History Compass, among others. Her book, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut was published by Stanford University Press in 2017.

Fadi Bardawil is Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle East Studies at Duke University. His research examines traditions of intellectual inquiry, practices of public criticism, and modalities of political engagement of contemporary Arab intellectuals, at home and in the diaspora. He investigates theoretical discourses as anthropological objects by tracking their international circulations, translations, and political appropriations. His writings have appeared in Journal for Palestine Studies (Arabic edition), Boundary 2Comparative Studies in South AsiaAfrica and the Middle EastAnthropology of the Middle EastKulturaustauschJadaliyya, the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar (2006-11) and the Syrian ezine Al-Jumhuriya. His book, Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation in forthcoming in March 2020.

Samer Frangie is Director of the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) and Associate Professor at the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration (PSPA), both at the American University of Beirut. His research and teaching interest include the intellectual and political histories of the modern Middle East and contemporary social theory. He has published a number of articles on the intellectual history of the Arab Left and is currently working on a book manuscript on the memory of the left. Aside from his academic work, he has published extensively in the Arab press.

Muneira Hoballah is completing her degree in Sociocultural Anthropology with an emphasis in Critical Theory at the University of California – Irvine. She received her MA in Critical and Media Studies from SOAS in 2012. She has worked in media organizations, research institutes and as a university lecturer. Her academic interests include: world social and intellectual history, cultural studies, media and society, technology, representation, pedagogy and thought

Deema Kaedbey is the co-founder and co-manager of the feminist organization in Beirut, the Knowledge Workshop, managing its feminist oral history project. She earned her PhD in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Ohio State University in 2014. Deema is also currently a consultant at ACSS, coordinating the Critiques of Power working group. She has also served as a mentor for the New Paradigms Factory program at ACSS in 2018-2019. 

About the Beirut Critical Security Studies Collective

The Beirut Critical Security Studies Collective (BCSSC) is coordinated by Professors Samer Abboud (Villanova University) and Omar Dahi (Hampshire College). Its goal is to engage critically with existing academic and policy debates about ‘security’ and international relations of the Arab region while developing alternative approaches and understandings that focus on the concerns and experiences of scholars and societies within the region, and more broadly, the Global South. The core members of the BSSC collectively authored a manifesto entitled, “Towards a Beirut School of critical security studies,” which outlines the intellectual roots of the Collective, its research agenda, methodologies and ethics.

For more information on the broader project, visit this page on the ACSS website, and the BCSSC website, The Beirut Forum for Critical Arab Security Studies.

Topics covered at the ACSS Academy:

  • Political economy of (in)security: This theme explores the ways in which violence and insecurity are increasingly tethered to the political economies of the Arab region and, in turn, how these political-economic landscapes are shaped by the exercise and production of insecurity.

  • (In)security of everyday life: This theme explores the micro-relations of everyday experiences of (in)security by taking people’s experiences, understandings, and terminologies as starting points for what it means to feel (in)secure and further looks into the strategies people employ to live with some form of insecurity.

  • Technologies of security: This theme addresses the relationship between technology and security in the region by investigating the implications of a wide range of technologies on the governance of security and the production of insecurity.

  • Discourses and genealogies of knowledge production: This theme focuses on the politics of knowledge production and seeks to produce alternative approaches of theorizing knowledge on the region. It also aims to critically assess the available concepts, theories and methodologies that are currently used to study security in the Arab region.

  • Borders, migration, and mobility: This theme aims to unpack the making and remaking of borders in the region in light of ongoing conflicts by exploring the ethnographies and the resilience or erosion of borders.

Learning Objectives

  1. Introduce participants to main theories and schools of thought within critical security studies

  2. Engage students with critical theories of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, the state, political economy, and international relations as they relate to questions of security

  3. Explore different methods and ethical questions through which critical research on security issues in the Arab region can be conducted.

  4. Expose students to possibilities for publications in critical security studies through the Beirut School and the general academic field in Arabic and English.

Confirmed Faculty from the CSS working group include:

Nicole Grove is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, with affiliations in the Department of Women’s Studies, the Hawaiʻi Research Center for Futures Studies, and the International Cultural Studies Program. Her teaching and research interests are located at the intersection of international relations, security studies, and transnational Middle East politics, focusing on issues of gender, technology, surveillance, and visual culture. Grove is a 2016-2017 Fulbright Scholar Award in the Middle East and North Africa Regional Research Program, and her work has been published in the European Journal of International Relations, Security DialogueContemporary Political TheoryCritical Studies on Security, and Globalizations among othersShe is also an Associate Editor for the journal International Political Sociology, and is on the International Advisory Board of the British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Grove’s book Intimate Capture: Security, Desire and the Middle East in the Data Imperium is under contract with Duke University Press.

Omar Dahi is the co-director of the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Program at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Associate Professor of Economics at Hampshire College. He has published in academic outlets such as the Journal of Development EconomicsApplied EconomicsSouthern Economic JournalPolitical GeographyMiddle East ReportForced Migration Review, and Critical Studies on Security. His last book is South-South Trade and Finance in the 21st Century (with Firat Demir). He is the project director of the “Security in Context” initiative hosted at PERI and serves as the co-coordinator (with Samer Abboud) of the Arab Council for the Social Science’s Working Group on Critical Security Studies in the Arab World. Dahi also serves as a co-editor for the e-zine Jadaliyya and as an associate editor at the Review of Social Economy.

Sami Hermez is Assistant Professor in Residence of Anthropology at Northwestern University in Qatar. He obtained his PhD from the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. His recently published book with Penn Press, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon (2017), focuses on the everyday life of political violence in Lebanon and how people recollect and anticipate this violence. His broader research interests include the study of social movements, the state, memory, security, and human rights in the Arab World. He has held posts as Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, Visiting Professor of Contemporary International Issues at the University of Pittsburgh, Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Mt. Holyoke College, and Postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford University. At Northwestern in Qatar, he teaches classes in anthropology that include topics such as violence, gender, and anthropology in the Middle East.

Jamil Mouawad is currently a lecturer in politics at the American University of Beirut. His research interests in state-society relations span the subfields of comparative politics and political economy. He specializes in the politics of the Middle East, with a focus on governance and limited statehood. He is a member of the ACSS working group, the Beirut Critical Security Studies Collective, and coordinates a project at the ACSS on the ethics of social science research in the Arab region.

Bashir Saade is an Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Politics and Religion at the University of Stirling. He previously held posts at the University of Edinburgh and the American University of Beirut. He has a PhD in War Studies from King’s College, London. His teaching and research interests cross between political anthropology and social theory. He studies contemporary Islamic politics while focusing on the increasing importance of media technology. He also engages in a genealogical reading of key pre-modern Arabic texts showing their relevance to modern transformations. His book, Hizbullah and the Politics of Remembrance (Cambridge University Press, 2016), focuses on the cultural production of the Lebanese political party.

Zaynab Bernoussi is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Al Akhawayn University and the coordinator of the Master of Arts in International Studies & Diplomacy (MAISD) and the Human and Economic Development Research Unit (HEDRU). She holds a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences from the Université Catholique de Louvain. She was a visiting scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. Her research is at the intersection of postcolonial theory and dignity politics in the case of Egypt. She is now working on global understandings of dignity and development paradigms, and on Sino-Arab relations.

About the Ethnography as Knowledge Working Group

The Ethnography as Knowledge (EthnoKnowledge) Working Group is engaged in a collaborative exploration of the critical knowledge that can be generated from attention to embodied, emotional and cognitive aspects of the ethnographic endeavor and from the resulting methodological adaptations. The group is interested in understanding how ethnography can counter dominant regimes of knowledge about the Arab countries and produce a more nuanced ethnographic understanding of the Arab region today. We propose that particular modes of attention are vital for ethnographic research, including attention to fear, sound, memory, lies, movement, dreams, and the immersive quality of violence.

For more information on the broader project, please go to on the ACSS website.

Topics covered at the ACSS Academy:

  • Ethnographic Research in Theory: This theme foregrounds ethnographic research in theory, all the while working along with, and through, the fieldwork material gathered, or yet to be gathered, by the participants. It will introduce the idea that the “overbearing conditions of the field” are those circumstances and forces that permeate the fieldwork experience, making themselves felt through the passions and perils of revolutions and collective action, spatial arrangements, violent conflict, and dominant discourses on the ethnographer and the lifeworlds s/he seeks to access. Students will reflect on the “overbearing conditions” of being and doing in their fields in order to know in, through and about their fields.

  • Ethnographic Research in Practice: This theme foregrounds ethnographic research in practice, all the while working along with, and through, the fieldwork material gathered, or yet to be gathered, by students. It will cover such key questions as access to the field in Arab-majority societies as well as the manifold challenges faced during ethnographic fieldwork. It will in turn discuss the many ethnographic maneuvers, strategies and ultimately breakthroughs made possible. It will further delve into ethnographic practice with hands-on insights into sensorial methods and collaboration.

  • Reflexivity and Representation: This theme probes the epistemological and ethical considerations of scripting the self and the other.

Learning Objectives

Through their participation in this Working Group, students will:

  • Grasp more thoroughly the value of their fieldwork material and what knowledge claims it can enable.

  • Develop a greater appreciation of the cumulative responses and adaptations that ethnographic fieldwork requires.

  • Have the occasion to think about reflexivity beyond positionality, beyond the who of fieldwork to consider the what, when and how of fieldwork.

  • Participate in discussing and considering ways of broadening and retooling reflexive knowledge production.

Confirmed Faculty from the EthnoKnowledge Working Group include:

Members of the Working Group

Samar Kanafani is a social anthropologist residing and working in Beirut. Her research explores the tactics of dwelling under precarious conditions at the intersection of ruined and renewed urban spaces in Beirut. She has been visiting lecturer at the American University of Beirut and tutor at the University of Manchester, doctoral fellow at the Orient Institute in Beirut, as well as postdoctoral fellow with the Arab Council for Social Sciences (2017-18), and the Institute of Global Prosperity in affiliation with University College London (2019). She is currently developing her doctoral book project, Made to Fall Apart: an ethnography of decayed houses and deliberate debris, and pursuing research on the commons under late capitalism.

Muzna Al-Masri holds a PhD in Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently a researcher and consultant for several UN and international organizations. Her most recent research reports include analysis of the conflict context in various Lebanese regions, examining the linkages between social cohesion and humanitarian interventions. She has held postdoctoral fellowships from the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (2016-2017) and the Orient-Institut Beirut (2018). She is currently preparing a book manuscript, which ethnographically explores the relationships between political elites and their constituencies, looking specifically at the emergence and production of the model of “entrepreneurial elite” in post-war Lebanon.

Lamia Moghnieh is a EUME fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and a former ACSS postdoctoral fellow. Her book project “Psychiatry in Lebanon from the 19th to the 21th century: Madness, Violence and Society” traces the cultural authority of modern psychiatry in Lebanon, through primary analysis of archival documents from the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders (popularly known as Asfuriyeh hospital) and ethnographic research on contemporary psychiatric practices.

Elizabeth Saleh works in the fields of political and economic anthropology with a special focus on agriculture, industry, labour and gender. Elizabeth has held posts at the Orient Institute in Beirut, the London School of Economic and Goldsmiths. In 2018, she received an ACSS Research Grant as part of their program entitled “Environmentalism, Impoverishment and Social Justice Movements: Interdisciplinary Perspectives”. She currently works as an assistant professor in Anthropology at the American University of Beirut.

Zina Sawaf is an ACSS Early Career Fellow. Her book project “Encountering the State: Women and Intimate Lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia” is an ethnographic study of embodied encounters between women and the processes, offices and officials of the state as well as its material culture in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.