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Rethinking the History of State Building in Lebanon

  • Sijal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture #1 15 Umar Ibn al-Khattab Street Amman Jordan (map)

“Wayn al-Dawleh?” is a common refrain to anyone familiar with the contemporary public debates in Lebanon. The phrase has its corollary in academic literature. On the one hand, much of the historical research on Lebanon has very little to say about state building, let alone social mobilizations calling on the state. On the other hand, Lebanon as a case-study is almost completely absent in the scholarship on comparative state formation in the Middle East. This lecture will draw on original archival and oral history research to challenge such conventional framings of the history of Lebanon. It will highlight the centrality of state institutions and mobilizations to shape those institutions in the history of Lebanon. In doing so, it offers new insights into the history of state formation, economic development, and social mobilization in Lebanon.