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Title: Beyond religion and the law : love and marriage in the time of sectarianism : an empirical examination of everyday practices of love in contemporary Lebanon
Author: Allouche, Sabiha
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 1023
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis fills a particular gap in the literature on gender in the Middle East: it examines love through an affective lens, beyond the religious and the legal frameworks from which the relationship between the Middle Eastern man and woman are often examined. The thesis is interdisciplinary. It draws on sexuality studies and gender theory mainly, whilst embracing an overall feminist approach towards knowledge production. This thesis combines a Deleuzian (from French philosopher Gilles Deleuze) approach with a political economy framework in its examination of 'everyday practices of love' in contemporary Lebanon, namely gifting, 'inclusive intimacy', and leisure. Whereas most of my interlocutors insisted that their choice of a partner is based on feelings of love, they articulated their views within a strictly intra-sectarian framework. How, then, can we conceptualize love as a feeling when its very definition is dependent upon a sectarian type of logic? In order to overcome this conundrum, I conducted fieldwork during nine months in urban Lebanon, between January and September 2014 (in addition to additional shorter periods during November 2014, March 2015, and July 2015). This thesis argues that love is a discourse that is taught and learned from an early age in Lebanon: it is regulated along normative intra-sectarian and heterosexual lines, in addition to confining women's sexuality to the boundaries of marriage. The construction of love as a potential of excess and irrationality in Lebanon is necessary for the construction of love-marriage as its ideal form. This thesis thus views marriage as a 'chrono-normative' (Freeman, 2008) practice that regulates people's lives towards maximum productivity. Additionally, the blurred boundaries between love, desire, and sex produce a hierarchy of desire where the intersection(s) of sect, gender, nationality, and class rank(s) bodies unequally. How the couple experience love is directly informed by the intersection of sect with further social categories, notably class and nationality. Depending on the practice and space in question, these categories can, at times, emerge in isolation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral