Dr Fuad Musallam

Dr Fuad Musallam

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Assistant Professor in Social Anthropology

I am a social anthropologist who focuses on activism, labour, the imagination, and how people come together to form community. I have done most of my research in Lebanon's capital city, Beirut, where I work with Lebanese political activists challenging the political system and with migrant workers building solidarity in the face of racialised inequality.


  • PhD in Anthropology (London School of Economics)
  • MPhil in Social Anthropology (Cambridge)
  • BA in Oriental Studies (Cambridge)
  • Higher Education Academy Fellow (PGCert - LSE)


A historical and political ethnographer by training, I use a variety of ethnographic, oral-historical, and archival methods, and have conducted field research in the Middle East (Lebanon and Syria) for over ten years, working with activists, migrant workers, and religious youth groups.

Before joining the University of Birmingham in 2023 I held research fellowships from the Max Weber Foundation (at the Orient-Institut Beirut) and the Economic and Social Research Council (at the London School of Economics), and taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the American University of Beirut, and the London School of Economics.


  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Ethnographic Film
  • Writing Worlds: Ethnography as Craft

Postgraduate supervision

The Middle East; migrant labour; urban life; activism and social movements; political subjectivity/imagination; affect and emotion; temporality and futurity.


At the broadest level, I am interested in the lives of the marginal, alternative and excluded in the urban Global South. I have two ongoing projects.

The first project investigates what, in a post-“Arab Spring” Middle East, drives young people to struggle for change in a failing city, and what makes them persist in the face of their failure to effect change. I explore these questions in detail in my forthcoming monograph, A Break in the Future: Feeling Like an Activist after the Arab Uprisings (University of Pennsylvania Press). More recently, this project has motivated a larger investigation of new forms of political action following both the Arab uprisings and the movements of the squares internationally.

The second project is concerned with how migrant workers in Lebanon create political community in the face of racialised labour inequality. As part of this project I facilitated the creation of a participatory archive of antiracist organising housed at the Migrant Community Center in Beirut. The archive is a collectively-curated mixture of protest paraphernalia, image library, and community history. Creative engagement with the archive is central to its purpose: to date this has included an on-site installation of protest banners, a visual history of the Center for new members, and a public exhibition to mark the Center’s decade anniversary.

My interest in participatory archiving is part of a broader concern with ethnographic methods and who gets to author knowledge, and how. I am currently curating accounts of what a decolonised use and presentation of ethnographic methods looks like as co-editor of the book New Questions of Anthropology (Forthcoming, LSE Press).


Recent publications


Musallam, F 2020, ''Failure in the Air': Activist Narratives, In-Group Story-Telling, and Keeping Political Possibility Alive in Lebanon', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 26, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13176

Musallam, F 2020, 'The Dissensual Everyday: Between Daily Life and Exceptional Acts in Beirut, Lebanon', City and Society, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 670. https://doi.org/DOI:10.1111/ciso.12349

Book/Film/Article review

Musallam, F 2023, 'Rebel Populism: Revolution and Loss among Syrian Labourers in Beirut', Journal of Development Studies, vol. 59, no. 12, pp. 1954-1955. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2023.2259616

View all publications in research portal


Activism, subcultures (political, artistic), Middle East (Lebanon).

Languages and other information

  • Arabic, Italian.

Media experience

  • Expert interview and in-studio guest work for the BBC World Service.
  • Writing for wider publics (Verso Books).