Ethnocratic Regimes: Identity and Territory in the Lebanese Context
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The current research aims to contribute to the existing literature by analyzing the Lebanese political, social, urban, and regional context, while proposing for the first time to look at Lebanon as an “ethnocracy”: a political system in which power and resources are distributed along ethno-religious lines (Yiftachel, 2000, 2002, 2006; Howard, 2012). The preliminary findings showed that the elite leading the nation-building process was not only characterized by common political and economic values, but also by common ethno-religious characteristics. Hence, the creation of the State reinforced and institutionalized a sectarian divide between the dominant Maronite elite and the newly co-opted Sunni bourgeoisie of Beirut and the coast, on one side, and the remaining ethno-religious groups, on the other. This structure of power produced a hierarchy of social groups and a hierarchy of spatial formations strongly contraposing the core of the country to the periphery. Further analysis of the findings also shows that, in the absence of State-driven planning policies, the periphery was left behind because it did not have the necessary social capital to elaborate its demands and present funding applications to the central government. However, this situation changed in the second half of the twentieth century, when political organizations were able to reimagine themselves as local planners and create development. This situation produced the emergence of a semi-periphery, represented today by Beirut’s southern suburbs, the south, and the Beqaa valley; while the north of the country, that did not experience the same process of political development, represents today the new periphery, deprived of political actors that can act as local planners in the absence of State planning initiatives. In conclusion, the work indicates a possible moment of synthesis, between the spirit of the ethnocratic regime and the counter-hegemonic spirit emerged from the periphery, by developing the concept of unity in alterity, which proposes, on one side, to enact a process aimed at what Porter calls “decolonizing planning” (Porter, 2010), and, on the other, to encourage the acknowledgement of the Other as an integral and equal component of the system, in order to develop what Levinas calls ethical relations.
SubjectKeyword 1: ethnocracy
Keyword 2: Lebanon
Keyword 3: urban marginality
Keyword 4: core-periphery relation
Keyword 5: semi-periphery
Date available in INDIGO2016-10-19T14:56:55Z
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