State Building, Public Institutions, & Social Mobilization in Lebanon 1943-1958
27 July 2015 @ 9:00am - July 28, 2015 @ 7:00pm
Sponsored by the Arab Studies Institute & George Mason University's Middle East Studies Program
On 27-28 July 2015, Ziad Abu-Rish and Mona Harb co-convened a two-day research workshop entitled “State Building, Public Institutions, and Social Mobilization in Lebanon: 1943-1958.” The workshop featured an inter-disciplinary group of scholars, 9 of whom were present and additional 5 of which participated remotely. Each of these 14 researchers either directly study the early independence period of Lebanon or engaged in research projects that rely on specific understandings of the period. The topical focus of the workshop is an attempt to both fill a major gap in the scholarly literature on Lebanon as well as to challenge static and exceptional frameworks of state formation and nation-building in the country.
The first day of the workshop featured introductions and individual presentations, which were grouped thematically and followed by focused discussion and feedback. The second day was geared toward tackling the commonalities across all presentations in terms of major themes, methodological challenges and opportunities, as well as future plans. It also featured an exclusive visit of the Archives and Special Collections of the American University of Beirut, the staff of which had curated a small exhibition of documents related to the workshop topic and time period. This workshop represents the first meeting of what is planned to be an ongoing and expanding research working group that is a forum for both scholarly exchange and public engagement in Lebanon. To that end, the workshop culminated in a public event which was moderated by Mona Harb and featured four other worship participants. The event brought out more than 70 people in attendance, as the auditorium was standing-room only. Since the public event, a number of senior scholars and laypersons in attendance have commented about the diversity and substantiveness of the presentations. As one esteemed attendee put it, “I live in Lebanon and research issues in the country. This was the best event to learn about Lebanon I’ve ever been to.” A complete workshop report, including a concept note, presenters’ biographies and abstracts, and discussion highlights, will be published before the end of 2015.
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