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Dr Alice Stefanelli

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Fellow of the Durham Research Methods Centre


Alice Stefanelli obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester (2017) and also holds an MA in the same discipline from Goldsmith College London (2013). She has been teaching in the area of political and economic anthropology at Durham University since September 2018.

Research overview

My ethnographic work explores the actors and practices that constitute the heterogeneous civic campaigns that fight for the protection of green public space in Beirut, Lebanon.

The central theme discussed in my research is the relationship between civic advocacy, public authorities and participation. My work sees pro-public space advocacy as a heterogeneous form of participation that is created by a diversity of actors - not only officially constituted NGOs, but also informal collectives and professionals (architects, urbanists, environmentalists, etc.), each of which brings something different to the table. My book manuscript, currently in preparation, illustrates how civic advocacy as a kind of mobilisation provides a space where diverse yet converging forms of participation to public life can arise, open up new debates, and force authorities to enter into a dialogue on such issues.

A second concern in my work revolves around urban governance, (un)livability and the role of experts in its making. Instead of focusing on expertise, I have looked at experts themselves as ethnographic subjects, with the aim to revise and nuance a widespread understanding of professionals as modernist "organic intellectuals", lacking any genuine social committment towards the inhabitants of the cities they plan.

This work on expertise and urban governance is also connected to an interest in infrastructures. My most recent project in this area, Excesses of Modernity, funded by the Centre for British Research in the Levant, takes a fresh look at (im)mobility and traffic in large cities, with the aim to disrupt modernist assumptions about automobility, modernity, and the compression of the space-time.

Research interests

  • Civil society and participation
  • Expertise
  • Heritage
  • Intersection between anthropology and architecture
  • Mobility and infrastructure
  • Space, place and time
  • The state
  • Urban governance

Supervision students