The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

Sept. 10 – Lydia Wilson on recent fieldwork in Lebanon

This Wednesday I’ll be giving the presentation to the Mellon Religion Committee, on recent fieldwork in Lebanon; please find the abstract below.

As usual, a light lunch will be served from 12.15, with the talk starting at 12.30. Room 5307, Grad Center.

Looking forward to seeing you and hearing your feedback at this initial stage of my research.





Six months apart: sectarian research in Lebanon, 2014


I undertook fieldwork in Lebanon in March and August of 2014, exploring moral values and sectarian worldviews – possibly the most sensitive of issues to probe in the country. This was part psychology research, conducted with paper questionnaires, and part anthropology, with open-ended questions following up the often very passionate responses to the questionnaires. Responses varied as to age, sect, area and education – all, of course, to be expected – but the huge division in responses was between interviewing in March and interviewing in August, which was less expected. I will argue that this difference in responses to my questions was based on very specific historical circumstances, namely the attack of ISIS on Lebanese soil earlier in the month, and, taking this into account, that the different reactions only serve to underline, rather than undermine, the results of just six months earlier. Sectarianism may be spoken of in different ways at different times, positive and negative, denied or affirmed – but it does not go away.


Lydia Wilson

Visiting Assistant Professor

Mellon Committee for the Study of Religion, CUNY Graduate Center,

365, 5th Avenue

New York, NY 10016