Aaron F. Eldridge F'21

Aaron F. Eldridge
Doctoral Candidate
Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2021
Doctoral Candidate
Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley
Monastic Life in Aftermath: Formations of Arab Orthodox Christian Asceticism in Lebanon

This project analyzes the return of Orthodox Christian monastic communities to Lebanon in the post-civil war period, from 1975-1990. The dissertation, based on twenty months of ethnographic and archival fieldwork, details the return of Orthodox ascetics to abandoned and centuries-old sites, showing how the uncanny return of hitherto unknown saints in dreams and the discovery of their bodies incites reinhabitation. Focusing on the lived and therapeutic modalities of monastic life’s return—in its liturgical poetics of chant, translation practices, and formations of communal labor—this research both details how the ascetics’ theologically inflected form of life traverses Muslim-Christian difference and becomes persuasive to a generation that is dispossessed of social, political, and economic guarantees. It shows how monasticism, lived as the struggle of the soul to ascend to God, evokes an other-worldly time that parochializes the ruinous aftermaths of Lebanon's present.