Maya Mikdashi is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a Lecturer in the Program for Middle East Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University, and also holds an MA from Georgetown University and a BA from the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
Maya has been a Mellon Fellow, a Faculty Fellow at NYU, and has been granted research grants from the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Middle East Research Commission, and Council/Ashkal Alwan. Maya is the author of Sextarianism: Sovereignty, Secularism and the State in Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2022). Sextarianism is a theorization of the relationships between sexual and political difference. It suggests that producing, erupting, securitizing, and traversing the borders between the supposedly private and public spheres are key to understanding how secularism is operationalized, imagined, and desired in a world of nation states. While it emerges from archival and ethnographic research in Lebanon, Sextarianism offers transnational frameworks for understanding the relationships between sovereignty, secularism, violence, sexual difference, religious pluralism, law, and the state. For example, Sextarianism offers a language to think about bodily rights or trans rights in the United States, or the regulation of sexual difference more broadly, comparatively with the regulation of sexual difference in Egypt, Turkey, India, or France. It does so by focusing on technologies and ideologies of power that nation states share regardless of location: bureaucracy, law, and the structuring binaries of the public and private on the one hand, and the religious and the secular on the other.
Maya has been published in several peer reviewed journals, including the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Gay and Lesbian Quarterly, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the Journal of Palestine Studies, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. She has also been published in edited academic volumes from Stanford University Press, UCLA Press and Oxford University Press, and in public facing venues. Maya’s scholarship has been translated into Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Spanish, French and German.
Maya is a co-founding editor of Jadaliyya, an electronic outlet dedicated to public scholarship, and scholarly journalism on the contemporary, transnational Middle East. She shares editorial responsibility for content related to gender and sexuality, and to Lebanon, and is a frequent contributor to Jadaliyya.
She is a co-director of the feature-length documentary film About Baghdad (2003), Director of the documentary film Notes on the War (2006), and Assistant Director, Editor, and Cinematographer of the documentary series What is Said About Arabs and Terrorism (2007). In 2015 Maya collaborated with Carlos Motta on his film Deseos / رغبات, which she co-wrote and performed in. Before pursuing graduate school in the United States, Mikdashi worked in the television industry in Lebanon.