Thursday, 12 September 2019, 06.00 PM-07.30 PM
The perhaps most well-known Lebanese historian in the Anglophone world, Kamal Salibi, referred to Lebanon in his book as a “House of Many Mansions,” using the biblical architectural visual. Each house is a sectarian community and the mansion is Lebanon. Written in 1988 amid the Lebanese civil war, he thus evoked the idea of a mosaic, each sect separate yet interconnected and argued that Lebanese are caught between the two ideologies of Libanism and Arabism and that it is the disagreements between Lebanon’s national history that is the source of violence. His ‘war over Lebanon’s history’ thesis shaped for decades how scholars of Lebanon, including myself, thought of the origins of the Lebanese civil war and of the production of Libanism, Arabism, and sectarianism in Lebanon. Sectarianism it appeared stood in the way of a national identity production, history seemed the burden that hindered the creation of a successful unified nation, and the notion of reconciliation of at least two opposing and inherently different national visions seemed the solution. A decade after publishing Shiite Lebanon I discuss in this talk how I propose a different, more dynamic, argument to explain the production of violence in Lebanon.
Roschanack Shaery-Yazdi is assistant professor in the history department at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She received her MA in Anthropology and Education from the University of Heidelberg in 1998. In 2005 she completed her PhD with honors from the University of Chicago, where she had studied the history of the modern Middle East. Her research interests include transnationalism, Islamism, violence, and memory politics in the Arab East and Iran. Her book Shiite Lebanon was published with Columbia University Press in 2008. Shaery’s new monograph Missing Traces. Syrian Regime and Abductions in Lebanon is forthcoming. Her new project is tentatively called Lives in the Middle East. From Tehran to Beirut. The monograph will be a micro-historical account of modern Iran from the early 1970s.