China Sajadian

CHINA SAJADIAN student photo

Research Interests

  • The Levant, critical agrarian studies, food systems, political ecology, labor, migration, refugees, gender, Islamic ethics

Subfield: Cultural Anthropology
Advisor: Dr. Mandana Limbert

I am a doctoral candidate in cultural anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center and currently a Mellon/ACLS Fellow. My dissertation is an historically-grounded ethnography of agricultural labor, circuits of debt, and gendered relations of hierarchy and interdependency among Syrian refugee-farmworkers in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Based on eighteen months of immersive ethnographic research working in potato fields, vineyards, and fruit orchards alongside farmworkers at the Lebanese-Syrian border, the dissertation traces what I call "debts of displacement" that have emerged from Syrians’ loss of seasonal mobility throughout the Syrian war. Through this unique case of migrants-turned-refugees, I argue that displacement encompasses more than the traumatic event of wartime uprooting. Displacement is, rather, an ongoing process embedded in debts across generations, bound by histories of labor migration, land tenure, agrarian dispossession, and ethical obligation on both sides of the border. My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Orient-Institut Beirut, the Committee on Globalization and Social Change, and the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. I have taught courses on the anthropology of religion, Middle East studies, and introductory anthropology at Brooklyn College.