[P6398] Martyrs of the Arab Left: Individual Experiences, Collective Narratives and Memories from Lebanon and Morocco

Created by Idriss Jebari
Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm


The growing number of histories of the Arab Lefts have demonstrated the entanglement of these movements in transnational theoretical imaginaries and the fruitful excavation of this neglected past. This panel interrogates the forms and deployment of Leftist memories in Lebanon and Morocco as part of their respective political struggles. While they are rarely read together, Morocco and Lebanon offer fruitful areas of comparison. Their lefts have been the primary recipients of civil strife and extra-judicial violence, during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) and the Moroccan Years of Lead (1965-90). They suffered greatly from the frustration of their progressive ambitions in the face of resilient sectarianism and a conservative monarchy, while broadening histories of the Arab Left across the region. Finally, the victims of this violence within their left have often been elevated as “martyrs”in order to unify their ranks faced with adversity, which have been written under a narrative of heroism, steadfastness and visionary foresight.

This panel explores three regimes of remembrance for these martyrs of the Arab Left in Lebanon and Morocco – nostalgia, oblivion, and myth – to shed light on how organizations constitute, reproduce and challenge their narratives of ideological commitment in the face of disillusionment. This panel gives space to imagine the creative approaches to deal with these regimes of remembrance by setting up a methodological conversation between two disciplines, anthropology and history. We ask: how do political parties celebrate these figures and integrate their loss to their overall narratives? How have families positioned themselves in relation to these processes? How have official memories contributed to further marginalized certain groups, such as women and the working class, and participate in a double oppression? Have alternative memories emerged in resistance to a party’s official line? How have these complex orders of remembrance impacted the adhesion or defection of other militants of the Left?

Speakers will explore the benefits of micro-historical perspectives and how to integrate these actors’ subjectivities in telling their stories. These papers invite future historians and anthropologists to interrogate the place of alternative archives, family papers, events celebrating their memories in person or on social media, and testimonies from former comrades. Finally, these papers bring the scholarly debate around “martyrdom” from the Islamist context as a way to elucidate the rapport between memory, the Arab Left and mobilization trajectories.


Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist; Hist



Maha Nassar

(University of Arizona)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Nadia Guessous

(Colorado College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Dylan Baun

(University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Dylan Baun is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is a historian of the Modern Middle East and Islamic World with a focus on the history of youth and young people. His current research focuses on popular youth clubs,...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Hannah Elsisi

(University of Cambridge)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Idriss Jebari

(Trinity College Dublin)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Sophie Chamas

(SOAS, University of London)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;