Meet the 2017 Institute Participants
[Logistical constraints require us to limit the number of overall participants and bring new participants in each year.]
Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter
Civil Marriage in Lebanon: Resisting, Challenging, and Reproducing Sectarianism and Other Identities
"Civil" practices and acts of citizenship have become a form of contestation to the assigned and long-established identities and social categories in Lebanon. Activists and multiple individuals involved in these practices in both an individual and collective basis are constantly challenging the confines of sectarianism as the singular definer of political identities. These civil forms of mobilisation and contestation have shaped new political identities, which at the same time are creating new paradigms of citizenship and organisation. From the visible mobilisation of ‘You Stink’ to the everyday acts of resistance of civil marriages, Lebanese have become social actors against sectarian modes of interaction and institutionalisation. The emerging political identities defining social actors have contested the political hegemony of sectarianism, creating the paradigm of "civil" contestation.
However, even anti-sectarian movements in Lebanon are embedded in the same hegemonic structure that they contest: the discourses developed by these anti-sectarian individuals reveal a conscious self-positioning outside the sectarian modes of affiliation, whereas they remained trapped in the dominant structure of sectarianism, as well as patriarchy and neoliberalism. Far from intending to impose academically the paradigm of sectarianism, this paper explores the dynamics of cultural hegemony and power in the event of mobilisations and resistance. The study of civil resistance and mobilisation helps our understanding of power asymmetries of sectarianism; not as a fixed political category, but as a paradigm that is constantly challenged and reformed, in a triangular interdependence with emerging political identities and mobilisation.
PhD Examination Fields:
Political Sciences; Sociology; Anthropology
Co-Convener: Ziad Abu-Rish
Ziad Abu-Rish is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Ohio University, where his undergraduate and graduate teaching center on the political, social, and cultural history of the modern Middle East. Abu-Rish’s research interests focus on state formation, economic development, and social mobilization in the mid-twentieth-century Levant. He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled "Making the Economy, Producing the State: Conflict and Institution Building in Early Independence Lebanon," which explores the changing nature of state management of the economy and the shifting patterns of alliances and conflicts that sought to shape that management. Abu-Rish earned his PhD from the Department of History at the University of California Los Angeles, and his MA in Arab Studies from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He serves on the editorial teams of the Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya e-zine. He also directs the Arab Studies Institute's Lebanon Project. Abu-Rish's publications include "Garbage Politics" (Middle East Report, Winter 2015) and “Protests, Regime Stability, and State Formation in Jordan,” as well as two co-edited volumes: The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012) and Critical Voices On and From the Middle East (Tadween Publishing, 2015).
Co-Convener: Nadya Sbaiti
Nadya Sbaiti is Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB). She earned her MA in Arab Studies and her PhD in History from Georgetown University and specializes in the social and cultural histories of the modern Middle East. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Pedagogical Constituencies and Communities of Knowledge in Mandate Lebanon,” which examines the central role of education to the formation of multiple national narratives and the production of history in Lebanon under French mandate. Her recent publications include “ A Massacre Without Precedent’”; “‘If the Devil Spoke French’: Strategies of Language and Learning in French Mandate Beirut,” and has written articles that guide researchers through Lebanon’s postwar archival terrain. Additional research interests include spatial manifestations of colonial and national projects; colonial methods of social control through prisons and asylums; the production of history as both discursive and material practice; tourism and heritage; and contemporary popular culture (music, film, game shows, and reality television). Sbaiti has taught introductory surveys of modern Middle Eastern history, courses on women and gender in the Middle East, the history of education, the Middle East and World War I, aspects of colonialism and nationalism, as well as nonwestern urban history. In addition, she is a co-editor of Jadaliyya e-zine, and served as co-editor of the peer-reviewed Arab Studies Journal.