Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Sofian Merabet


Associate ProfessorPh.D., Columbia University

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Anthropology Undergraduate Honors Advisor
Sofian Merabet

Contact

Interests


Socio-Cultural Theory/Psychoanalysis/Urban Studies/Gender Studies/Queer Theory/Muslim World, Europe, and South America

Biography


I am a socio-cultural anthropologist with an expertise in the modern Middle East (with a focus on Lebanon and Syria) and the wider Muslim world, including Muslim immigrant communities in Europe and the Arab Diaspora in South America (especially Argentina). My interdisciplinary research analyzes the human geography of queer identity formations and the social production of queer space as constitutive features of wider class, religious, and gender relations. My professional interests draw on comparative methodologies and approaches ranging from religious and cultural history to the politics of sexuality.

https://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/anthropology/faculty/sm39377

Courses


ANT 392M • Intro To Grad Social Anthro

31460 • Fall 2016
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.120

This course introduces doctoral students to major texts in sociocultural theory that have been central to the development of the discipline of anthropology from its colonial roots in North America and Western Europe to the contemporary period. While not a comprehensive history of anthropological theory, this course provides a chronological and contextualized perspective as it explores and interprets the relationships between varying and, at times, competing theoretical, epistemological, and ethical claims on anthropology and related disciplines. Based on classical scholarship by some of the “founding fathers” of modern social science, this course traces parts of the genealogical trajectories taken by the anthropological study of culture and society. Following that intellectual legacy, this course asks a central question: How can we make sense of sociocultural anthropology as an academic discipline today? Problematizing the role the concept of “culture” has played in shaping the idea of the “field,” we will look at “location” as a principal site of epistemological limitation and possibility for anthropological research.

ISL 311 • Muslims In Europe

41410 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 310L, EUS 306)

Based on the comparative approach between contemporary France and Germany, this interdisciplinary course examines the ways in which official Muslim identity has been negotiated and coopted institutionally by the state. Drawing on textual and visual materials in debates about religion, morality, and leadership, the course explores the interplay of cultural, social, political and economic factors in shaping current debates around the subject of an officially envisaged European Muslim identity. The class is intended to expose students to ethical issues pertaining to religious identity formation in two countries of the European Union. While the perspective of this course will be primarily anthropological, it will also be informed by historical, sociological, and legal approaches. Special attention will be paid to the history and controversies surrounding two institutions and their leadership, the French Council of the Muslim Faith, which was intended to serve as an official interlocutor with the French state in the regulation of Muslim religious activities, and the Muslim Coordination Council in Germany, which was founded in the wake of the first German Islam Conference in 2007. Moreover, in an effort to apply ethical reasoning in real-life situations, we will work to grasp the similarities and differences regarding everyday religious politics of ethics and leadership among Muslims living in France and Germany today, especially as these are shaped by historical processes associated with colonialism and nation-state-building as well as by the power of representations mobilized in a global world. 

ANT F302 • Cultural Anthropology

80430 • Summer 2016
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM SAC 4.174

This course focuses on "classic" themes in anthropology such as ethnicity, language, adaptation, marriage, kinship, gender, religion, and social stratification.  We will consider anthropological theory from its 19th-century origins to the present.  The course also explores the nature of ethnographic field work, especially the relationship between the anthropologist and the field community.  
The lectures, readings, and films for this course have been selected with the objective of exploring the social meanings with which diverse groups invest their life.  By comparing and analyzing the similarities and differences between "us" and "others," both within the borders of the U.S. and abroad, the anthropological perspective can expose some of our own cultural assumptions and enable us to better understand diverse cultures.

ANT 302 • Cultural Anthropology

30215-30230 • Spring 2016
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM UTC 4.122

This course focuses on "classic" themes in anthropology such as ethnicity, language, adaptation, marriage, kinship, gender, religion, and social stratification.  We will consider anthropological theory from its 19th-century origins to the present.  The course also explores the nature of ethnographic field work, especially the relationship between the anthropologist and the field community.  
The lectures, readings, and films for this course have been selected with the objective of exploring the social meanings with which diverse groups invest their life.  By comparing and analyzing the similarities and differences between "us" and "others," both within the borders of the U.S. and abroad, the anthropological perspective can expose some of our own cultural assumptions and enable us to better understand diverse cultures.

ANT 391 • Sexuality And Culture

30580 • Spring 2016
Meets M 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 5.118
(also listed as WGS 393)

This graduate seminar deals with the cultural analysis of sexuality. Its aim is to evaluate critically formative concepts and theories that have been subject to debates within Anthropology, History, Philosophy, and Gender Studies/Queer Theory. Through the reading of a variety of texts, we will explore the central position sexuality occupies within culture. By discussing recent scholarship covering Affect Theory and Critical Gender Studies, we will examine the ways in which the nation and the state are closely tied to the politics of sexuality, gender, race and class and consider how bodies marked by those concepts are situated in space and time. One of the basic themes of the material for this course concerns the extent to which both realities and their perceptions are socio-cultural constructs that are subject to constant change and, therefore, need historical contextualization.

ANT 391 • Anthropology Between Cul & Soc

30660 • Fall 2015
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 5.118

Based on recent book publications by faculty members of the UT Anthropology

Department, this graduate seminar explores some of the current debates in the US

surrounding the anthropological study of culture and society. How can we make sense of

sociocultural anthropology as an academic discipline today? is the central question of this

course. Problematizing the role area studies have played in shaping the idea of the

“field,” we will look at location as a principal site of epistemological limitation and

possibility for anthropological research.

ISL 311 • Muslims In Europe

40608 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 220
(also listed as ANT 310L, EUS 306)

The topic of the course is the complicated politics of ethics and leadership among

Muslims in contemporary France and Germany. This class is intended to expose students

to ethical issues pertaining to religious identity formation in two different countries of the

European Union. Moreover, in an effort to apply ethical reasoning in real-life situations,

we will work to grasp the similarities and differences regarding everyday religious

politics of ethics and leadership among Muslims living in France and Germany today,

especially as these are shaped by historical processes associated with colonialism and

nation-state-building, as well as by the power of representations mobilized in a global

world. While the perspective of this course will be primarily anthropological, it will also

be informed by historical, sociological, and legal approaches in an attempt to engage

perspectives across various social science disciplines and the law. Based on the close

reading of four recently published ethnographies about Muslim life in France and

Germany, we will discuss how a consideration of current debates about religion and the

state helps us understand the ethical relationship between the recognition of a lasting

Muslim presence, the ways in which the state tries to institutionalize it in an effort of

cooptation and control, and the challenges of circulating counter-discourses of European

Muslim identity today. Moreover, the course will draw on cinematographic materials that

illustrate some of the current debates surrounding Muslim identity formation in Europe.

ANT 302 • Cultural Anthropology

31465-31480 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM CLA 0.112

This course focuses on "classic" themes in anthropology such as ethnicity, language, adaptation, marriage, kinship, gender, religion, and social stratification.  We will consider anthropological theory from its 19th-century origins to the present.  The course also explores the nature of ethnographic field work, especially the relationship between the anthropologist and the field community.  
The lectures, readings, and films for this course have been selected with the objective of exploring the social meanings with which diverse groups invest their life.  By comparing and analyzing the similarities and differences between "us" and "others," both within the borders of the U.S. and abroad, the anthropological perspective can expose some of our own cultural assumptions and enable us to better understand diverse cultures.

ANT 391 • Narratives Of Space

31875 • Spring 2014
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 5.118

ANT 391 • Sexuality And Culture

31605 • Fall 2013
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 5.124

MEL 380 • Gend/Masculinities In Mid East

41810 • Spring 2013
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 391)

The subject matter of this graduate seminar is the analysis of gender and masculinities in the Middle East. While the methodological focus of the class will be an anthropological one, we will also explore the concepts of sexuality, power, and desire in Arab, Iranian, and Israeli culture through critical readings in history, sociology, journalism, and literature, as well as through feature films and documentaries. While the course does not provide an inclusive overview over the extensive literature on the subject of gender and masculinities, it attempts at communicating important theoretical concepts and understandings that are at the forefront of current debates within the social sciences. This includes the close reading of recently published ethnographies on Arab societies, but also historical works on pre-modern homoeroticism, as well as novels written during the past ten years on the subject of sexuality, authority, and violence in the region. Next to examining some of the major theoretical discussions in anthropology and gender/queer studies, the seminar will consider critically how the issues raised in class can be contextualized in terms of differing understandings of what constitutes gender and gender identities in the contemporary world.

ANT 302 • Cultural Anthropology

30970-30985 • Fall 2012
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM BUR 212

This course focuses on "classic" themes in anthropology such as ethnicity, language, adaptation, marriage, kinship, gender, religion, and social stratification.  We will consider anthropological theory from its 19th-century origins to the present.  The course also explores the nature of ethnographic field work, especially the relationship between the anthropologist and the field community.  
The lectures, readings, and films for this course have been selected with the objective of exploring the social meanings with which diverse groups invest their life.  By comparing and analyzing the similarities and differences between "us" and "others," both within the borders of the U.S. and abroad, the anthropological perspective can expose some of our own cultural assumptions and enable us to better understand diverse cultures.

ANT 391 • Sexuality And Culture

31365 • Fall 2012
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 5.124
(also listed as WGS 393)

This graduate seminar deals with the cultural analysis of sexuality. Its aim is to critically evaluate formative concepts and theories that have been subject to debates within Anthropology, History, Philosophy, and Gender Studies. Through the reading of a variety of texts by different authors such as the Marquis de Sade, Freud, Foucault, Malinowski, and Butler, we will explore how terms like "women" and “men,” “femininity” and “masculinity,” as well as “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” have structured people's experiences and their perceptions of sexuality at large and the central position it occupies within culture. One of the basic themes of the material for this course concerns the extent to which both realities and the ways in which they are perceived are socio-cultural constructs that are subject to constant change and, therefore, need historical contextualization.

MES 384 • Gend/Masculinities In Mid East

41780 • Spring 2012
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM SAC 4.120
(also listed as ANT 391, WGS 393)

The subject matter of this graduate seminar is the analysis of gender  and masculinities in the Middle East. While the methodological focus  of the class will be an anthropological one, we will also explore the  concepts of sexuality, power, and desire in Arab, Iranian, and Israeli  culture through critical readings in history, sociology, journalism,  and literature, as well as through feature films and documentaries.  While the course does not provide an inclusive overview over the  extensive literature on the subject of gender and masculinities, it  attempts at communicating important theoretical concepts and  understandings that are at the forefront of current debates within the  social sciences. This includes the close reading of recently published  ethnographies on Arab societies, but also historical works on  pre-modern homoeroticism, as well as novels written during the past  ten years on the subject of sexuality, authority, and violence in the  region. Next to examining some of the major theoretical discussions in  anthropology and gender/queer studies, the seminar will consider  critically how the issues raised in class can be contextualized in  terms of differing understandings of what constitutes gender and  gender identities in the contemporary world.

ANT S324L • Queer Ethnographies

81960 • Summer 2011
Meets MTWTH 10:00AM-12:00PM SAC 4.174
(also listed as WGS S340)

This upper-level undergraduate course deals with the anthropological analysis of gender and sexuality. Its aim is to critically evaluate formative concepts and theories that have been subject to recent debates within Anthropology, Gender Studies, and Queer Theory. Through the reading of a variety of ethnographies, we will explore how terms like “women” and “men,” “femininity” and “masculinity,” as well as “homosexuality,” “heterosexuality,” “bisexuality,” and “transsexuality” structure people’s experiences around the globe. Our focus will be the close assessment of some key texts written by such influential thinkers like Judith Butler, R. W. Connell, Michel Foucault, and Michael Warner. Moreover, the course focuses on local-level social and cultural processes that challenge a wide range of heteronormativities within a regional and global framework. The basic theme of the material for this course concerns the extent to which both realities and the ways in which they are perceived are socio-cultural constructs that are subject to constant change. 

ANT 391 • Narratives Of Space

31510 • Spring 2011
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM SAC 4.120

This graduate seminar deals with the anthropological analysis of space, with a special emphasis on urban culture. It does not provide an inclusive overview over the extensive literature on the subject, but attempts at communicating important concepts and philosophies that are at the forefront of contemporary debates within the disciplines of Anthropology and Urban Studies. This includes the close reading of key texts written by such influential theorists like Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau, but also “urban memoirs” by some writers of fiction. Further, the material to be read will enable us to assess the impact of colonial policies on cities in geographical areas around the globe. Next to examining some of the major current debates in qualitative social science, the seminar will critically consider how the issues raised in class can be applied to the study of present-day cities in the US and abroad, especially in terms of differing understandings of what constitutes public space.

MES 322K • Cities Of The Middle East

42080 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM SAC 4.174
(also listed as ANT 324L, URB 354)

This advanced undergraduate course deals with the anthropological and sociological analysis of space, with a special emphasis on urban theory and culture in the Middle East. It does not provide an inclusive overview over the extensive literature on the subject, but attempts at communicating important concepts and philosophies that have been at the forefront of important debates within the disciplines of anthropology/sociology and Urban Studies. This includes the close reading of key texts written by such influential theorists like Max Weber and Henri Lefebvre, but also of fiction like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and an “urban memoir” by Orhan Pamuk. Further, the material to be read will enable us to assess the impact of colonial policies on cities in geographical areas as diverse as North Africa, the Levant, and Iran. Next to examining some of the major debates in qualitative social science, the course will critically consider how the issues raised in class can be applied comparatively, especially in terms of differing understandings of what constitutes cities today and the cultural practices of daily-life that are performed in them.

ANT 391 • Sexuality And Culture

30342 • Fall 2010
Meets TH 4:00PM-7:00PM MEZ 1.118
(also listed as WGS 393)

This graduate seminar deals with the cultural analysis of sexuality. Its aim is to critically evaluate formative concepts and theories that have been subject to debates within Anthropology, History, Philosophy, and Gender Studies. Through the reading of a variety of texts by different authors such as the Marquis de Sade, Freud, Foucault, Malinowski, and Butler, we will explore how terms like "women" and “men,” “femininity” and “masculinity,” as well as “homosexuality” and “heterosexuality” have structured people's experiences and their perceptions of sexuality at large and the central position it occupies within culture. One of the basic themes of the material for this course concerns the extent to which both realities and the ways in which they are perceived are socio-cultural constructs that are subject to constant change and, therefore, need historical contextualization.

Curriculum Vitae


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