I’ve been based in Geneva, Switzerland since 2020 where I’m finishing my PhD in cultural studies from the University of Zurich. I’m from Lebanon, and I lived in England and Scotland for four years.
Affiliations: Research Associate: Center for Social Sciences Research and Action. Board Member: Domestic Workers Advocacy Network. Member of: Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, Postgrowth Institute, Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), Degrowth Switzerland, L’Observatoire de la Post Croissance et de la Décroissance (OPCD), and Anarchist Studies Network (ASN). Past: Middle East Studies Association, British Sociological Association, The Citizens, Nations and Migration Network, Council for British Research in the Levant and Long Now Foundation.
Publications: Al Jazeera, Al Jumhuriya, Al Araby, Middle East Eye, El Diario, Raseef22, I.B. Times, Pulse Media, RS21, Global Voices, Byline Times, IFEX, International Socialist Review, Addis Standard, Crimethinc., Rusted Radishes, Shado Mag, GenderIT, Arab Reform Initiative, LSE Middle East Blogs, Harvard Kennedy School’s Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy (JMEPP), Mangal Media and more. Archives available on this website.
Contact: at the bottom of this page.
My name is Joey B. Ayoub. I am a writer, researcher, scholar, editor and podcaster currently based in Geneva (2020-) after four years in Scotland (2017-2019) and England (2015-2017). Born in France in 1991, I grew up on some mountain in Lebanon and lived in Beirut for a few years.
I’m of Lebanese, Argentinian, Palestinian and Italian heritage, and a citizen of the former two countries. More importantly, I’ve inherited the experience of multiple generations of people who were displaced for one reason or another, either persecution or economic hardships, or both. This has naturally influenced my own experience, for better or worse, of being a migrant in Europe.
Up until 2010, I had a relatively uneventful life. I did witness momentous events in Lebanese history, such as the 2005 uprising against the Syrian regime’s presence, the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war and the 2008 ‘Beirut conflict’, but I don’t remember ever truly understanding these were about. At the end of 2010, I started my Bachelor of Science at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Environmental Health. This would go on until 2013, during which time my world opened significantly. It’s when I really realized that my exposure to the world had until then been fairly limited. At AUB I met Palestinians and Syrians as well as Lebanese of all backgrounds in a way that was simply not possible where I grew up. This, in retrospect, would be the beginning of a more active life.
Around that time I also started a blog called Hummus For Thought. For a few years, it got a sizeable audience and with that came a level of media attention that I didn’t quite know how to handle (spoiler alert: I was autistic all along and had no idea). I primarily blogged about Lebanon’s racist Kafala system, which is a form of slavery, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and broadly anti-sectarian politics. I was involved in a group called ‘the Youth Movement’ which took part in the 2010 Laique Pride movement advocating for secularism in Lebanon.
So 2010 to 2013 were what you might call ‘formative years’. By 2015 I was very active in a number of initiatives and protest movements. In the summer of 2015, I helped organise what was then the biggest independent protest movement in recent Lebanese memory, the ‘You Stink’ movement. I mostly helped out as a media liaison officer (as I learned later) and, separately, helped with Global Voices’ coverage of the protests. You’d note that I’m calling it a movement rather than an uprising, although it was technically that too. This is to differentiate it from what happened in October of 2019, but that’s for later.
Although I helped organise that movement, I also had to leave while its momentum was still going. That’s when I moved to London where I received my MA in Cultural Studies (with distinction, thank you very much) a year later in 2016. That single year at SOAS, University of London was probably the most active few months I had experienced thus far (and remember, I grew up in Lebanon). I was involved with the SOAS Palestine Society as well as the SOAS Syria Society. I also supported the Kurdish society, but I wasn’t really active.
My Master’s thesis was on the politics of language and the case study I used was Hebrew and Yiddish in pre-WWII and contemporary Jewish political thought. This is the best where I mention that I am obsessed with languages, which is why I undertook that study. I also did it because, as a Lebanese-Palestinian who grew up in Lebanon, studying the politics of Hebrew and Yiddish wasn’t exactly a common thing. My uncle said I was just being provocative, and I guess he was right since he seemed very provoked.
to be continued (still writing)