Elizabeth Saleh

Assistant Professor in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the American University of Beirut

works at the intersection of political and economic anthropology. Her first long-term ethnographic fieldwork was based in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and culminated in 2014, in her doctoral thesis about the Lebanese wine industry. Elizabeth’s current ethnographic research began in 2015 and is about the lives of underage Syrian waste pickers growing up at a small scrapyard located in a run-down building in Beirut. The book in progress has the working title, Junk Territory: Coming of Age at a Beirut Scrapyard. It focuses on question of value pertaining to the way young waste pickers buttress, engage, and become entangled with Beirut’s infrastructures as well as different economies of recycling and their supply chains.


You can find Elizabeth and her work here:


Selected Publications

(2022). “Lebanon Bark: False Dichotomies and Playful Commoning” in Kaedbey, Deem, T. Safaa, & Diran, Zeinab (eds) What Remains: Eco-Feminist Pursuits. Al Warsha. Beirut. (In English and Arabic)

(2021). “Recycling Policies from the Bottom Up: Waste Work in Lebanon” in the Arab Reform Initiative. (also available in Arabic in different versions)

with Al-Masri, Muzna; Kanafani, Samar; Moghnie, Lamia; Nassif, Helena & Sawwaf, Zina (2021). “On Reflexivity in Ethnographic Practice and Knowledge Production: Thoughts from the Arabic World.” Commoning Ethnography. 4(1). (in process for translation into Arabic)

with Fawaz, Mona; Gharbieh, Ahmad; Harb, Mona & Salame, Dounia (eds.) (2018). “City as Play”. Refugees as City –Makers. Publication by the Social Justice Program based at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut. (also available in Arabic)

with Adrien Zakar (2018). “The Joke is on Us: Irony and Community at a Beirut Scrapyard.” Anthropology Today. 24(3). Pp. 3-6.

(2017). “A Tangled Web of Lies: reflections on ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian Turkmen women on the side of a road in Beirut” in Contemporary Levant. Volume 3. 55-60.

(2016). “The Master Cockroach: Scrap Metals, Garbage and Informal Syrian Labour in Beirut’ in Contemporary Levant. Volume 2.pp. 93-107.