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Title: Ethnic identity in perspective : the case of Shi'a and the State of Lebanon
Author: Gregou, Maria
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Using Shi’i Community as a case study, the thesis explores the established theories of nationalism and ethnic identity. It elaborates on four different historical and socio-political contexts. These contexts, however changing, never uproot one another; rather, there are particular components that are maintained and recycled throughout. Along these lines, the historical context of Shi’i identity will be analysed in Part I, Chapters 1-2. Chapter one deals with Shi’i religious and local identity. It explores the socio-political context of the early Islamic period, out of which the particular Shi’i religious myths and symbols were constructed. At a second stage, it contextualises on the local setting of the Shi’i areas of pre-state Lebanon. Chapter two elaborates on the changing socio-political setting of the late Ottoman period; the way it shaped Shi’i collective identity. Within the context of both chapters, what accounts for collective Shi’i identity is a set of complementary and overlapping attachments; religious, local kinship, old and new. More than plain historical events, both the chapters of the first part are based on the political themes of the core thesis (chapters 3-6). The second context as presented in Part II, Chapters 3-4, is the context of state construction in Lebanon. Chapter three situates Shi’i identity within the contexts of both the mandate and independent Lebanon. Chapter four deals with Shi’i political mobilisation and the new inferences it brought on to Shi’i collective identity. Through the lenses of Shi’i community, both these chapters of the second part explore the actual structure of the state in Lebanon, according to the traditional theories of state-building. Chapter three evaluates state traditional functions, as distributor of socio-economic rewards, forging both the political representation of the citizens in state-sponsored institutions, as well as the ‘national’ myths and symbols. Through the case of Shi’i political mobilisation, chapter four explores the very nature of state legitimacy itself, in the form of citizens’ mobilisation around both state institutions and ‘founding’ myths. The third context evolves around state destruction and warfare in Lebanon, dealt with in part III, chapter five. Chapter five deals with the establishment of Shi’i military organisations as autonomous channels of authority, monopolising the means of coercion, traditionally labelled as ‘state’ function, and forging new identity boundaries. The last context, is the one of state-reconstruction, in the aftermath of warfare in Lebanon, presented in Part IV, Chapter six; the final chapter deals with the historical continuity between the past and the present state of Lebanon. Consequently, all the different contexts of the thesis are linked together in the final part. In this later part, as argued even though state reconstruction in Lebanon was to a large extent different from the mainstream European historical paradigm, it however reproduced some of the main components of pre-war channels of authority and the nature of the attachments these forged.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available