Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History and Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Stanford University
The Making of Sectarian Shi'i Lebanon, 1926-1948

This dissertation will suture the social, religious and cultural history of Lebanese Shi' ism and elucidate the multiple modalities by which disparate historical agents disseminated singular conceptions of Lebanese Shi'i modernity during the late French Mandate and early independence periods. Showing how colonial and postcolonial states compete and collaborate with a variety of social forces and institutions, I argue that hegemonic historiographical representations of Lebanese Shi'ism and Jabal 'Amil hinge on the erasure of concrete material forces that contributed to their underdevelopment. The political economy of tobacco, colonial capitalism under the Mandate as well as state-led infrastructural development projects in Jabal 'Amil during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s demonstrate the extent to which Lebanese Shi'i marginality was historically produced through an array of material practices (internal colonialism) and attendant discursive counterparts (nesting Lebanese orientalism). Dynamics internal to the Lebanese Shi'i community converged with these processes in the re-negotiation and re-constitution of Lebanese Shi'i cultural identity. The nature of this process confounds commonsense notions regarding the place of the secular and the religious in the experience of modernity. The Lebanese Shi'a were intimately involved in shaping this knotted historical moment, in surprising ways which transcend conventional representations of Lebanese sectarianism and continue to inform Lebanese identity formation.