Re-confessionalising the Shi'ites and the Druzes: The Failure of Secularism in Lebanon

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This paper examines the history of the relations between the Shi'ite and Druze communities in independent Lebanon. Suggesting that these have turned on the issue of secularism, it argues that the attitude towards the state and its political structure has always taken front stage. Three stages in the relationship can be discerned: mobilization, cooperation, and political dissension. The defeat of the Left and the failure of the secular project constituted a historical watershed in the political behavior of both communities, leading to a regression to primordial loyalties and exclusivism. While this development reflects structural weakness and vulnerability amongst the Druze, amongst the Shi'ites it is indicative of increasing communal consciousness, growing empowerment, and the adoption of new strategies in the attempt to change Lebanese political reality. At the same time, the historical circumstances the two communities have experienced within independent Lebanon demonstrates that the confessional system continues to serve as an obstacle to the creation of a coherent and crystallized political community in Lebanon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-182
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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