[P6545] Mount Lebanon in Cultural, Political, and Collective Imagination

Created by Randa Tawil
Thursday, 12/02/21 2:00 pm


Within Lebanon, the area known geographically as Mount Lebanon, or simply “al-jabal” by some, has continued to hold a special place in the national and diasporic imaginaries. Following sectarian violence in 1860, Mount Lebanon was governed as a distinct Ottoman Mutasarrifiyya before being wholly incorporated into French Mandate Lebanon and eventually, the independent Republic of Lebanon in 1943. Whether as a tourist attraction, a source of “authentic” culture, or a demarcated space of difference within the nation, Mount Lebanon has often taken special meanings of both comfort and pain for people in Lebanon and its diaspora. Engaging with scholarly literatures on imagined geographies, affect theory, and autohistory, this interdisciplinary panel considers how Mount Lebanon has been imagined through multiple social structures, how those structures reinforce each other, and what that can tell us about race, sect, and family in Lebanon’s national development. Our panel attempts to answer these questions through a productive dialogue between cultural studies, religious studies, and familial memory informed by political history and migration studies.

Collectively, the papers on this panel will investigate the idea of Mount Lebanon as an imagined space for Lebanese citizenry and diasporas. Drawing upon diverse archives and sources, each paper interrogates the multifaceted role of Mount Lebanon as an exceptional space and a universal one. Our first paper argues that, built up by money abroad, Mt. Lebanon’s associations of refuge and home have blurred and erased family memory of unlikely connections between the mountain and U.S. empire. The second paper demonstrates that even prior to the crystallization of Lebanon’s national borders after World War I, social and religious structures that tied Mount Lebanon to Beirut contributed to a proto-nationalism which shows that Lebanon’s borders were neither wholly arbitrary nor inevitable. The final paper moves to the post-independence period and contends that as the Lebanese state endeavored to forge a national identity, it drew upon components of a secularized Mount Lebanon at various conjunctures as the foundation of being Lebanese.


Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist



Jeremy Randall

(The Graduate Center, City University of New York)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Joshua Donovan

(Columbia University)
Joshua Donovan is a PhD candidate at Columbia University, where he focuses on the political, social, and intellectual history of the Modern Middle East. His research centers on the emergence of competing conceptions of nationalism and liberalism, particularly...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Randa Tawil

(Texas Christian University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;