Eda Pepi is a sociocultural anthropologist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She is Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, where she works at the intersections of feminist studies, political anthropology, and the anthropology of kinship. Her research and publications focus broadly on the cultural and historical processes through which gender, ethnicity, citizenship, sovereignty, and the state have been forged in contemporary MENA territories. Pepi is completing her first book, Marital States: The Reproductive Politics of UnCitizenship in Jordan, which explores how states manage political and economic problems, like statelessness, through families. This project examines ethnographically how Jordan polices its borders by regulating the marital and reproductive choices of Jordanian women, showing that our understandings of the state cannot stand separate from analyses of gender and kinship.
She is currently at work on a second book project, provisionally titled Grounds for Divorce: Gender and Transnational Kinship in Western Sahara. This multi-sited, multi-year ethnography asks how Sahrawi women and men negotiate new transnational domestic arrangements across different kinship regimes — from Western Sahara to Spain. Despite the widespread stigma against divorce across the world, the practice is celebrated in Sahrawi culture. Recognizing this longer tradition of celebrating divorce, Grounds for Divorce nevertheless explores the disciplinary aspects of multiple divorces across transnational regimes that alternate between pro-natalism in Western Sahara and “modernizing” expectations for small, nuclear families in Spain, the previous colonial power and a primary migration destination for Sahrawis.
After completing her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and working at the Social Science Research Council for several years, Pepi received her MA and her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the Yale Macmillan Center and the Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses.