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The Origins and Development of Lebanese Nationalism in Comparative Perspective

A lecture by Carol Hakim, University of Minnesota

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
3:00 PM
6275 Bunche Hall


The past decades have witnessed a proliferation of revisionist histories about the emergence of nationalism in the Arab world. However, these studies have on the whole sidestepped the issue of Lebanese nationalism which has been either depicted as a special and exceptional case owing to the presence of a large Christian population who developed early on marked separatist tendencies or squarely written off as part of a French colonialist project which aimed at thwarting Arab nationalist aspirations.


The talk will argue that Lebanese nationalism was neither an exceptional nor a deviant case, and that its development should rather be considered within the broader framework of the emergence of nationalism in the region and the appearance of different nationalist currents such as Ottomanism, Arabism, and Syrianism. Like these other fledging nationalist movements, the emergence of Lebanism was linked to broad processes including the incorporation of the region into the word economy, the reform of the Ottoman Empire and the growing intervention of foreign powers. Moreover, Lebanism evolved in parallel with these other nationalist currents, and for the most part intersected and overlapped with them up until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

The talk will examine the particular circumstances that led to the emergence of Lebanism and critically reassess the existence, nature and scope of a Lebanese national project and movement before the establishment of the Lebanese state. It will discuss some problems and issues related to the development of Lebanese nationalism and attempt to compare its evolution with that of other nationalist currents with a view to drawing some general conclusions about emergence and evolution of nationalism in the region.

Carol Hakim is an assistant-professor in History at the University of Minnesota where she has taught since 2005. Her research and teaching activities focus on nationalism, state-formation state-society relations, and authoritarianism in the Arab world. She is currently working on a book on the Origins of the Lebanese National Idea 1804-1920.



Cost : Free and Open to the Public


Sponsor(s): , Historiography of the Middle East

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