Panel 6

“Revolutionary resistance and intellectual history”

(All informations below are from the website of the Scuola Normale Superiore)

Date and time: Thursday 1st December 2022 | 12:00 – 13:30 PM

Room: Altana Hall

1.) Discussant: Zeynap Gambetti – Boğaziçi University

2.) “Kfar Rumman, 1973: tobacco growers and the radicalization of peasant conflict in the Lebanese ‘long-1960s’”

Rossana Tufaro – Sapienza University of Rom

From the late 1960s up to the outbreak of the Civil War (1975-1990), Lebanon experienced the widest and most longstanding wave of social conflict in its post-colonial history. Amid this unprecedented upsurge, combative peasant movements emerged and activated from the deep north to the deepest south, becoming an integral part of the process of transgressive activation of subaltern groups upon which the domestic dynamics leading up to the Civil War sedimented and found expression. Among them, a prominent position was occupied soon by the tobacco growers of South Lebanon, whose mobilization for better purchase prices and licensing policies turned quickly into a broad-based accusation act against the organic relation between political and economic power defining the form and the nature of the Lebanese state. In their politicization, a prominent role was played by the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) which, especially after the Third Congress of 1972, put the agrarian question to the core of its militant agenda.

Based on documentary and ethnographic research, the following paper aims at retrieve the forgotten history of South Lebanon’s rural revolts, disentangling the complex dialectics between structural triggers, state repression, and the new commitment to direct action by the Lebanese Marxist Lefts in the shadow of the Global 1960s, reserving a special attention to the so-called “Kfar Rumman massacre” of January 1973, and its radicalizing role. In so doing, the paper will also attempt to open a ‘distant dialogue’ between past and present for, as much as the town represented the core of tobacco struggles in the 1960-70s, it has also represented the most prominent Southern node of the Lebanese Uprising of 2019. How many legacies of that past have informed Kfar Rumman’s contentious present?

3.) “Knowledge practices within the Palestinian Revolution: The PLO Research Center as a collective intellectual (1965-1982) “

Candice Raymond – French Institute for the Near East (Ifpo) ERC program DREAM

In early 1965, while the Palestinian armed groups were launching the struggle for the liberation of Palestine, soon to be called “the Palestinian Revolution”, the newly created Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) established in Beirut a research center dedicated to the study of the Palestinian question and the Arab Israeli conflict. Mobilizing a number of Palestinian, Lebanese and, more broadly, Arab researchers and authors, present in Lebanon or contributing from abroad, the Research Center developed a significant editorial production while investing in an intense work of documentation and archiving, until the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 put a stop to its activities through looting and bombing.

My presentation will review the history of the PLO Research Center between 1965 and 1982, and its attempt to institutionalize a field of research on Palestine and Israel, at the crossroads of the academic and political fields, based on a socially shared belief in the emancipatory potential of knowledge within a liberation movement. By crossing archival material, printed sources and interviews, my research questions the social profiles and works of the researchers and writers involved with the Center, the material and epistemic organization of its research infrastructure (research departments, archives and library, publication series), and the configuration of the social networks formed through its various activities, in order to bring out the specific articulations of this field of research in Palestinian and Israeli studies conducted from Beirut. The study of the PLO Research Center practices in matter of knowledge production and dissemination will disclose the modalities of its inclusion in the Palestinian Revolution through intellectual work that was organically linked to militant mobilizations. My hypothesis here is that the PLO Research Center should be seen not as a mere organ or think tank of the PLO, but as a true “collective intellectual” (Bourdieu) of the Revolution that merged a scientific ethos typical of this generation of militant intellectuals with the imaginary of the fidâ’î.

4.) “Mobilising Factors in the Early Syrian Revolution: The role of the Rural, Myths, and the Marginalised”

Jack McGinn – London School of Economics and Political Science

The Syrian Revolution was an unusual uprising, even within the region, given its spread from the rural periphery to the urban centre, which is the reverse of the norm, its horizontal or ‘leaderless’ characteristics, with few party structures or traditional models of leadership emerging, and the way the revolt spread and remained coordinated in a local or ‘nodal’ fashion, with many simultaneous episodes of revolt remaining small-scale, distinct, yet connected. This paper explores the role of myth and local tradition in propelling and fashioning the uprising, particularly in the rural areas from whence in came. Early sites of revolutionary activity like Dera’a and Rif Dimashq had embedded memories of revolt dating back as far as the anti-colonial uprising of 1925–27, led by the Druze Sultan Pasha al-Atrash. Based upon qualitative interviews with participants, now based in Jordan, this piece looks at the mobilising power of myths and the resulting character of the rural revolution in 2011.



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