“Civil Marriage, Not Civil War!” Anti-Sectarian Activism in Post-War Lebanon

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Alexandra KASSIR, EHESS, France
This study examines the struggle of young anti-sectarian activists in post-war Lebanon. It discusses the youth aspirations, efforts and challenges in becoming actors of their own lives and agents of change in a state of permanent political instability, very vulnerable to regional turmoil.The sectarian regime is a multifaceted power sharing system that entails both the distribution of the government and administrative posts among the various confessions and the relinquishing of the personal status jurisdictions to the religious courts. By rendering the citizen-state relation mediated by the sects and their affiliated political parties, it very much hinders the various attempts towards building a more democratic system. In this context, the anti-sectarian wave, a predominantly youth-led grassroots movement operating outside the realm of conventional politics, has been largely overlooked. Using a participatory methodology based on the activists’ reflexivity and self-analysis of their action, this study sheds the light on the youth subjective experiences and “alter-activist” mode of engagement. It first, reveals how the participation in the movement is not a mere political stance but an affirmation of the self against a system interfering in the most intimate aspects of their daily lives and is in itself, a transformative experience. Moreover, it discusses how this “subjectivity path” simultaneously brings the youth closer and away from achieving their democratic aspirations. If their shared mistrust of institutional politics and their commitment to ensure a means-ends consistency are among the main challenges for an effective impact in the realm of conventional politics; the fragility of this mode of engagement simultaneously constitutes its strength. It allows the youth to overcome both the potential obstacles linked to the recognition of religious particularisms in a plural and divided society, and the political deadlock to fabricate democracy in the “here” and “now”, in this context of political instability.