[CALL FOR PAPERS] Revolt in a time of collapse. Revolution, dignity and livelihood in Lebanon and the contemporary Arab world

To download the Call For Papers document (which includes English, French & Arabic version), click here :  CFP_Revolt_Collapse_Lebanon_ENG_FR_AR_final

Call For Papers: Conference in Spring 2022 in Beirut and Publication (English, French, Arabic)

Schedule and procedure

Proposals (intentions for contributions – with title and abstract not exceeding 500 words) should be sent to dream@cmb.hu-berlin.de by july 15, 2021, at the latest. They can be written in English, French or Arabic.
Selected proposals will be presented at the Spring 2022 workshop. A full draft (with notes and bibliography) should be sent to the organizers before March 31, 2022.

The papers will be published.

The ERC DREAM is covering economy-class travel and 2-3 lodging for all participants that are not fully supported by their institutions. Considering the situation faced by number of our colleagues in the region, some participants will also receive a 300 € honorarium upon submitting their final draft.

Argument 

The ERC-CO DREAM project (Drafting and enacting the revolution in the Arab Mediterranean) proposes a workshop on the revolutionary and protest cycle observed in contemporary Lebanon. This workshop takes as its starting point the popular revolt of fall 2019. It seeks to account for the mobilizations of 2019-2020 by avoiding a (geo)political history that would be a form of scholarly repetition of an expert discourse in pursuit of current events. It hopes to open a questioning to account for the complexity of these “weeks where decades occur”, without crushing the subtle shifts, inventions and emergences thereof. It wants to do justice to the part of the sensitive, of emotions and impressions (sometimes “false” but true in their effects) that they arouse, while posing the importance of reflexivity and distanced analysis. Finally, it aims to highlight the singularities of the Lebanese case without presupposing the usual list (confessionalism, corruption, etc.) or by showing how these same categories have been displaced, and this through the mobilization of a literature of social history and sociology of social movements that allows us to work on common points as well as differences (Allal and Pierret, 2013, Chalcraft, 2016, Dakhli, 2020).

To that end, we would like to receive proposals for contributions that are oriented around the following reflections:

1) The October 2019 event is a moment where ordinary social structures are put in tension (Dobry, 2009), where the barriers between confessions, social classes, generations, gender, are – at least temporarily – questioned in act as well as in discourses. Other identifications emerge  while places appear symbolic of this suspension of the social. The event brings other profiles than the usual activists to take to the streets: what are these series of social “decompartmentalizations”, of biographical (Bessin et alii, 2010) and even geographical bifurcations? In which areas of the social world are they carried out in practice? What is the relevance in this context of partisan, confessional, regional identification, “primary identities” (Picard, 2006), which are considered more solid in Lebanon, rather than social, generational or gendered (Bardawil, 2019), when and how do the frictions between one or the other appear? Beyond the moment of the uprising, it is a question of reflecting on the way in which social structures are re-imposed, perhaps in other ways, with the demobilization of the protesters. Can we speak of a process, or a mechanism of “on-off switch” about these identifications? Can we observe an accelerated disenchantment, or an echo of disenchantments experienced in previous experiments (Bardawil, 2020; Frangie, 2016)?

2) In contrast to what is visible in the event, what are the zones that remain hermetic and do not mobilize, what are the limits of this tension put on and the social structures that are not or only slightly affected? What links are not (un)made? More accurately, what are the aborted, shortened, limited mobilizations that can take place – sometimes over only a few days – within this event? Or even more, what are the parallel mobilizations that hardly meet those of October 17? Finally, what are the mobilizations against this movement, on the side of the political and economic elites, as well as on the side of the police and soldiers who officially surround them, and is it possible to draw the line between mobilization and counter-mobilization so easily?

3) The event has a creative dimension, implying the “emergence” of new social forms (Chazli and Reyner, 2018) or even deep structural changes (Sewell, 1996). Daily solidarities, social groups, forms of identification, repertoires of militant action, practical savoir-faire that are created and exchanged, lexicons and vocabularies: what is invented in the course of the event itself or expands as a result of the event. To what extent are these inventions rediscoveries and do they dialogue with the social movements that preceded them? What has remained since then? How can new events, such as the August 4th explosion, reactivate, reuse, and re-appropriate these inventions? The diachronic dimension of these political appropriations certainly allows to insert the 2019 sequence in a longer and deeper temporality.

4) What pasts are involved in this crisis? Whether in the form of experience or prior dispositions at the level of individuals, which become “discovered” in the event, of reactivated networks or militant structures, of a repertoire of action, or on another level of historical precedents which are discussed (Sohrabi, 2002, Saba, 2018) and are a source of inspiration, the event is to be re-inscribed in a longer history: in what sense, by whom, when and how can previous local social movements (“you stink”, EDL day laborers, retired public sector teachers or military, 2011 protests), or previous political initiatives (Beirut Medinati, Sabaa, feminist movements) be important or marginal for 2019, as a reference, a repellent, a reservoir of savoir-faire? In what way can other groups, confessional and close to political parties, of ordinary sociabilities (the “neighborhood youth”), or of leisure activities (think of the soccer fans) and a-political groups, have also had an influence? How could the past be opposed to this movement in the discourses, as a threat, that of the Lebanese war (1975-1990) or that of the current Syrian war? Finally, beyond the borders of Lebanon, what echoes of the movements of the last decade can be heard in the Lebanese mobilizations?

5) While the literature on social movements has long shown the absence of a clear link between economic conditions and social mobilization, notably that a deterioration of the economic situation does not necessarily translate into mobilization (Thompson, 1975, Siméant, 2010), the case of Lebanon in 2019-2020 is unique in that it offers a combination of social mobilization and economic crisis, the links between which require further investigation. On the one hand, the movement proceeds from a financial issue, in an already degraded economic context – a tax on Whatsapp -, and subsequently offers in its very daily life a form of sociability and economic mutual aid for the mobilized people. In this respect, the very course of the social movement is perhaps closer than one might think to “non-political” collective initiatives emerging in the economic crisis: bartering, mutual aid systems, cooperatives, attempts to set up alternative currencies. It is also potentially a moment of re-qualification and politicization of acts that were previously considered from an individual and psychologizing angle, seen as non-political: suicide or emigration. It also offers places for mobilizations (in front of the Central Bank and its branches in Lebanon) and gives rise to new mobilizations (those of migrant women workers deprived of work seeking to leave the country). Finally, the continuing economic crisis can also have a demobilizing effect, forcing everyone to withdraw into the family unit and be caught up in a race to provide for daily life (Meddeb, 2011). The health situation adds to this set of difficulties, encouraging a retreat to small structures, whether voluntarily or forced, at the intersection of mental burden (especially for mobilized women) and militant fatigue.

Methodologies

The chain of events in Lebanon since fall 2019 has made it difficult for social scientists to work. This dimension of global crisis (political, economic, social and health) also affects the ways of working and working in the field. In order to try to understand what is happening, we must make room for these new constraints. They must therefore be integrated into the reflection on the crisis itself. The contributions we expect will have to make room for the context of the study, in a reflexive – or at least analytical – form. The present, more than ever, is the place of a constrained enunciation and of the elaboration of a questioning, including when it concerns the past. The work”at a distance”, made necessary by the health crisis, or by intermittence (Emperador Batimon, 2017) could also be problematized. We encourage proposals coming from artists, activists and multidisciplinary researchers. Tandem writings from a particular site, associating different voices, writings based on the revisiting of a material collected before the crises, are welcome.

We will favor proposals for contributions based on a local study, possibly linked to the researcher’s participation in mobilizations. We wish to start from Lebanon to ask the wider question of the interactions between revolutions and social and economic crises. Asking these questions from the “Lebanese case” will enable us to enrich the reflection on revolutionary movements in the Arab world, in a diachronic and geographical perspective. Comparative proposals are therefore welcome to shed light on the “Lebanese case” and to enrich the reflection on revolutionary movements in the Arab world, both in a diachronic and geographical perspective. We believe that these comparisons can be established through situated studies and a focus on “the world of small things”, which may seem exceptional or not very “representative”, but which distance us from the general discourse on the movements. These “tiny lives” of the revolution are places of understanding of broader transformations that may still be unnoticed. They allow us to understand, as close as possible to the actors and territories, the emotions that are involved in these particular times.

Finally, in line with the general methodology of the DREAM project, we will pay particular attention to the sources and documentation mobilized or created for the study: observation, collection of testimonies, collection of documents, collection of material traces…

To download the Call For Papers file (English, French & Arabic version) go to the top of the page !