China Sajadian

Eveillard Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology


Contact & Office Hours

Spring 2023
Thursday, 1:15–2:15pm, 
and by appointment 



Ph.D., City University of New York Graduate Center

M.A., Columbia University

A.B., Smith College


Bridging migration studies, agrarian studies, and economic anthropology, China Sajadian’s research broadly examines links between histories of displacement and contemporary conflicts over land and labor in the Middle East. Her current book project, Debts of Displacement, is based on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian and Lebanese agriculturalists at the Lebanese-Syrian border. In contrast to the conventional idea of refugee exile as one linked to an originary event of traumatic uprooting by war or disaster, Debts of Displacement argues that Syrian farmworkers’ displacement is part of a much longer history of how debt configures agrarian labor mobility: a multi-generational and ongoing predicament rooted in uneven agrarian development, crises of household provisioning, and gendered labor obligations on both sides of the border. By examining the distinctly agrarian conditions of Syrian farmworkers’ displacement from a feminist perspective, her research challenges the distinction between “involuntary” refugees and “voluntary” labor migrants, as well as the idea of a refugee crisis itself. 

Her research has been supported by the Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Max Weber Foundation, the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, and the Committee on Globalization and Social Change. Her writing has been awarded the Association for Feminist Anthropology Sylvia Forman Prize, the American Ethnological Society Elsie Clews Parsons Prize, the Society for Economic Anthropology Harold K. Schneider Prize, the Moise A. Khayrallah Center Alixa Naff Migration Studies Prize, and the Koonja Mitchell Memorial Dissertation Prize.

Before coming to Smith, Sajadian taught for three years at Brooklyn College. She looks forward to teaching courses about migration and displacement, agrarian and food studies, economic anthropology, labor, gender, and the Middle East.


Book manuscript
Debts of Displacement: Syrian Refugee Farmworkers at the Lebanese-Syrian Border

Refereed articles
2023. “The Drowned and the Displaced: Afterlives of Agrarian Developmentalism Across the Lebanese-Syrian Border” Forthcoming in Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies.

Editor reviewed publications
2022. “Rethinking Climate Refugees and the Syrian Refugee Crisis: An Agrarian Perspective of Displacement.” Arab Studies Journal 30 (2): 74-81.
2020. “The Agrarian Question in Lebanon Today: A View from the Bekaa Valley” Jadaliyya, August 19. 
2020. “al-suʼāl al-zirāʻīy fī lubnān: mashhad min mukhayyam fī sahl al-Biqāʻ” (The Agrarian Question in Lebanon Today: A View from the Bekaa Valley) Al-Khandak, August 2020. Translated by Yara Hateet. 
2020. “Critical Agrarian Studies.” In International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), ed. Audrey Kobayashi, 17–23. Oxford: Elsevier. 

Articles under review
“The Reproductive Binds of Debt: A Feminist Perspective of Agrarian Displacement in a Syrian Refugee Farmworker Camp.”