Labor and the Urban Landscape: Mobility, Risk, and Possibility among Syrian Delivery Workers in Beirut

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7 Scopus citations


In this article, I investigate the embodied, class, and political relations of Syrian delivery workers on motor scooter who forge a livelihood by moving through the space of Beirut, Lebanon. I develop an argument about how the work lives of these delivery drivers are characterized by various conditions of insecurity. Rushing around the city, these workers face certain bodily risks, as they are physically vulnerable in vehicular traffic, but they encounter still other forms of precarity as an outcome of both their position in the city's migrant labor regime and a fraught Lebanese political climate in which sentiment against the Syrian regime spills over into the mistreatment of ordinary Syrians. At the same time, I consider how delivery drivers understand their jobs to be constituted by certain forms of freedom and opportunity that make their work distinctive from that performed by most Syrian laborers in Beirut. Drawing inspiration from anthropology's increased attunement to the particular and multiple forms of insecurity that shape labor and life in our contemporary age, the geographies of work I examine here are both urban and transnational, and thereby highlight the stakes involved in experiences of spatial movement at multiple scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-94
Number of pages11
JournalAnthropology of Work Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the American Anthropological Association.


  • Insecurity
  • Middle East
  • Migrant labor
  • Mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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