Sabbagh Lecture: "Trust(s) in the Family: Entanglements of Capital, Culture, and Kin in the Arab Southeast Asian Diaspora in the 20th Century"

Professor Michael Gilsenan will give this year's Sabbagh lecture, “Trust(s) in the Family: Entanglements of Capital, Culture, and Kin in the Arab Southeast Asian Diaspora in the 20th Century.” Gilsenan’s lecture is Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, at 7 p.m. at Tucson University Park Hotel, located at 880 East 2nd Street.

Both the lecture and the reception that follows are free and open to the public.

About the Speaker

Michael Gilsenan, a social and cultural anthropologist, is the David B. Kriser Professor in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University. He was previously the director of the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU.

Professor Gilsenan studied at Oxford University (B.A. Oriental Studies; DPhil Social Anthropology). He was a lecturer and then reader in anthropology at University College London and the Khalid bin Abdullah al Saud Professor at Magdalen College, Oxford. Gilsenan’s doctoral work was about the sociology of Sufi orders in Egypt. He later spent two years in north Lebanon living in a village in the region of Akkar.

About the Lecture

Arabs from the Hadhramaut area of Yemen have migrated to South and Southeast Asia for centuries. Gilsenan is studying the larger migrations from the 1870s on, of those who travelled or settled in what are now Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. How do migrants transmit goods, monies, and properties? How do they originate and reproduce cultural practices over the generations? How do often shifting ideas of ‘family,’ ‘blood,’ and morality intersect with colonial legal institutions as well as with changing forms of Sharia in the colonies from the later 19th century on?

One inheritance strategy until the Second World War was to set up family trusts under English law, trusts whose funds usually have to be distributed to heirs some 75-85 years after their establishment. Conflicts over such trusts, as in America and Britain, are legion, the stuff of jokes, impassioned narratives, and wildly complicated documentations. Combine these entanglements with legal challenges to wills and we have all the material of family dramas across the generations and diasporic spaces that to this day play out in contemporary Singapore courts in which judges rule in terms of both Sharia and Singapore law.

The School of Anthropology is very pleased to present this series of distinguished speakers in the Sabbagh Lectures. This year the School presents the 26th annual Sabbagh Lecture. The lectures focus on the Arab cultures of the Middle East from an anthropological perspective.

Through the generosity of Drs. Entisar and Adib Sabbagh, an expert in Arab cultures is brought to campus each year. The guest speaker participates in one public lecture and a master seminar for graduate students.

Dr. Entisar (Vivi) Sabbagh is a Ph.D. graduate of the UA School of Anthropology, and Dr. Adib Sabbagh is a Tucson cardiac surgeon.

The Sabbaghs are sponsoring these lectures to enhance public understanding and appreciation for the complexity and diversity of Arab cultures. The lectures also serve to enrich the curriculum of the School of Anthropology by bringing to it the expertise of eminent scholars.

Event Location: 

Tucson University Park Hotel


Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 7:00pm

SBS Unit: