New Faculty: Kirsten Scheid
|Professor Kirsten Scheid
Although Kirsten Scheid is new to the Department of Social and Behavioral
Sciences, she is not new to AUB, nor to Lebanon. She spent a semester
at AUB in 1993, and during her visits to the country during the past decade,
she has been active in outreach and research projects related to the development
of Lebanon's art communities.
After completing her degree in art history (with a minor in anthropology)
at Columbia University in 1991, Scheid departed the United States to spend
a semester in Ramallah, Palestine, at the University of Birzeit and another
at AUB in 1993. During that time, her interest in the art communities
of developing nations became her focus. She then returned to the US to
pursue her graduate studies at Princeton University, where she completed
both a master's and a PhD in anthropology.
Scheid's marriage to a Lebanese, combined with her intense interest in
the study of art communities in the Middle East, brought her back in 1996
to settle permanently in Beirut. She explains that the local artists she
worked with inspired her to address how art is perceived and defined and
how it can be of benefit to society. She recalls that she kept hearing
Lebanese artists say things like, "We don't have culture here."
In her opinion, the fact that art is so strictly defined in "high
art" terms restricts a lot of creativity in developing nations, limiting
the possibilities for confidence-building in individuals, communities,
and cultures. Seeking to encourage local artists to define art in their
terms and in their language, Scheid helped found the community, Nadi al-Saaha,
and has published a series of children's books in Arabic using the talents
of local artists.
When asked what her hobbies are, Scheid responds, "Boycotting."
This is not surprising, considering that her research involves much social
activism. When she's not teaching, researching, or raising her daughter,
Scheid enjoys supporting local agricultural efforts and staying active
in political projects.