The Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES)
The Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies (SOAM)
American University of Beirut
Cordially invite you to a lecture
Questionnaire as a pedagogy of expertise:
Sociology and social service at the American University of Beirut during the French Mandate
Université Lyon 3
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 5:00 PM
SOAM Seminar Room (Nicely 204)
Abstract The American University of Beirut (AUB) has been defined as a hub for social research and the training of expert elites during the Mandate, thanks to the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and under its guidance. Statistically-intensive social studies, for which the Sociology Department at AUB was pressing, became a favorite tool to train experts, and this article explores the pedagogical use of these studies. Central to the pedagogy of social sciences at AUB were both empirical social service and the use of questionnaires as a means of enquiry, quantification, and theorization. The use of questionnaires, applied to social issues, was far from neutral: it followed what was considered as the one and only “scientific method of social problems”, which tended to take social problems for granted. Questionnaires were not only a way for social scientists at AUB to gather material, but a means to produce acceptance for social agendas promoted by AUB and, in the background, by the Rockefeller Foundation. This was true not only of academic work within the Sociology Department, but also of the main social work student organization at AUB, the Civic Welfare League, which was indeed directed by the university's social scientists and opened international careers for some students.
Bio Philippe Bourmaud is an assistant professor in modern and contemporary history at the Université Lyon 3, currently based in Istanbul. His research concerns the making of the medical profession, the mechanisms of development, and currently, the construction of public problems in the late Ottoman and Mandate period. He co-organizes the Palestine seminar of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and the seminar on Ottoman knowledge at the Institut Français d'Etudes Anatoliennes (Istanbul).