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Shi'ite Lebanon

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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Note on Transliteration Introduction: Claiming Cultural Citizenship in Lebanon from Margin to Center Part 1 The Nation in the Making 1. Two Nations and One State: Shi'ite and Maronite Lebanon 2. Schooling and the Creation of Lebanese Shi'ite Public Identities Part 2 Transnational Debates and Local Struggles 3. Shi'ite Piety and the Palestinian Cause: The History of a Discourse 4. The Politics of Shi'ite Authenticity Since 1982 5. Iranian Cultural Politics in Lebanon Epilogue Notes References Index

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Roschanack Shaery-Eisenlohr proposes a new framework for understanding Shi'ite politics in Lebanon and reconsiders not only the politics of Shi'ites' established leadership but also the institutional and popular activities of identity production. Shaery-Eisenlohr traces current Shi'ite politics of piety and authenticity to the coexistence formula in Lebanon and argues that engaging in the discourses of piety and coexistence is a precondition to cultural citizenship in Lebanon. She demonstrates that debates over the nature of Christianity and Islam and Christian-Muslim dialogue are in fact intertwined with power struggles at the state level. Since the 1970s, debates in the transnational Shi'ite world have gradually linked Shi'ite piety with the support of the Palestinian cause. Iran's religious elite has backed this piety project in multiple ways, but in doing so it has assisted in the creation of a variety of Lebanese Shi'ite nationalisms with competing claims to religious and national authenticity. Shaery-Eisenlohr argues that these ties to Iran have in fact strengthened the position of Lebanese Shi'ites by providing economic, military, and ideological support for Hizbullah, as well as compelling Lebanese Shi'ites to foreground the Lebanese components of their identity more forcefully than ever before. Shaery-Eisenlohr challenges the belief that Shi'ite identity politics only serve to undermine the Lebanese national project. She also makes clear that the expression of Lebanese Shi'ite identity is a nationalist expression and an unintended result of Iranian efforts to influence the politics of Lebanon.

About the Author

Roschanack Shaery-Eisenlohr completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University.


"Shaery-Eisenlohr's various arguments are not simply nuances of existing theses, but rather fairly significant reformulations of our understanding of the rise of Shi'ite politics in Lebanon and beyond." -- Akram Khater, author of Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender, and the Making of a Lebanese Middle Class, 1861-1921

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