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Jenna Rice Rahaim

Visiting Assistant Professor
Charity, Humanitarianism, and Gifts; Empathy and Obligation; Migration and Refugees; National and Sectarian Sentiment; Genealogy and Kinship; Postcolonial and feminist literatures; the Middle East and Islamic World


Jenna Rice Rahaim received her PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her research focuses on migration and religious, economic, and ethical practice in the Middle East. Her dissertation, Imagining Debt, Practicing Obligation: Family, Charity, and Humanitarianism in Saida, Lebanon examines changing sensibilities towards charitable giving among Sunni Muslims in the context of the influx of Syrian refugees across the border.

She has conducted extended ethnographic fieldwork in the city of Saida among wealthy patrons, anonymous donors, groups of female volunteers, NGO workers, religious leaders, and families that have redrawn their boundaries to create cohesive mutual aid associations. Broadly speaking, her work examines the ways in which people come to feel obligated to help refugee and migrant communities in Lebanon – whether due to piety, politics, kinship, or compassion. Her work also shows how charitable giving becomes a space for negotiating the city’s relationship to secularism, sectarianism, religion, race, and political alliances. This research becomes especially important during a time of growing inequality, a shrinking welfare state, and the influx of more than one million Syrian refugees into Lebanon.

International Diploma: Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po), Paris 2004

BA: UC Berkeley 2005
MA: Stanford University 2009
PhD: Stanford University 2016