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Chamas, Sophie (2022) 'Community Organizing and the Limits of Participatory Democracy in Lebanon.' In: Haugbolle, Sune and LeVine, Mark, (eds.), Altered States: The Remaking of the Political in the Arab World. London: Routledge. (Routledge Studies in Middle Eastern Democratization and Government)

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This chapter draws on two years of fieldwork with an activist-initiated community group in the East Beirut neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, a locale suffering the consequences of an aggressive process of gentrification. I argue that gentrification has served as both a sign and a facilitator of feelings of social abandonment. A bodily knowledge has brought the residents of Mar Mikhael to the conclusion that the Lebanese state very much exists and is more than capable of getting things done when it wants to, countering the common refrain that Lebanon is a failed state. I discuss a group of activists’ attempts to “activate” the citizens of Mar Mikhael and help them lobby for their rights by asking them to appeal to the very state they believed had willfully abandoned them. I argue that these activists’ progressive vision for the political potentiality of community organizing was limited by their dependence on a response to this grassroots work from the state, framed as the sole legitimate provider for city and citizenry. I explore the resurrection of state effect from below and the ability of the “idea” of the state to survive its own deconstruction by turning to theorizations of the state as fantasy.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
ISBN: 9781032134093
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the article/chapter accepted for publication in Haugbolle, Sune and LeVine, Mark, (eds.), Altered States: The Remaking of the Political in the Arab World. London: Routledge (2022). Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2022 12:48
Related URLs: https://www.rou ... k/9781032134093 (Publisher URL)

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