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Department of Social Anthropology


Business, government, and civil society initiatives in Lebanon promote leadership, particularly for women, as an individualised solution to economic woes. Increasing women's representation in parliament or augmenting young people's ability to plan for their future are offered as modes of empowerment. What does this mean in a context where economic collapse is considered imminent and opportunities are most often sought abroad? And for women, what do individualised empowerment techniques offer in a context where the structural (legal, kin-related, and economic) barriers to parity with men are powerful? Acknowledging the healthy anthropological scepticism about concepts like leadership and leadership programming, this project also recognises a genuine demand for such programming in Lebanon despite its obvious limitations. Through an ethnographic investigation of leadership as it is taught in Lebanon, this study intends to shed light on the various social meanings of a term that has become ubiquitous, with particular attention to the ways in which the term 'leadership' serves as a tagline for commitments to ethical self-cultivation.

British Academy (2018-2021). Dr Susan MacDougall.