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New Release: The Problematics of State and Community in Lebanese Historical Writing

Wajih Kawtharani addresses how Lebanese historians have written about Lebanon and gives suggestions for the national path ahead

Ahram Online, Wednesday 7 May 2014
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'The Problematics of State and Community in Lebanese Historical Writing' book cover
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Ishkaleyat El-Dawla w Alta’ifa fi Ketabat Tarikhiya Lobnaniya (The Problematics of State and Community and Issues of Methodology in Lebanese Historical Writing), by Wajih Kawtharani, Doha: ACRPS, 2014, 102pp.

The Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has published a new book by Lebanese researcher Wajih Kawtharani.

In his book, Kawtharani discusses the range of perceptions found among Lebanese historians, with their varying sectarian or communal affiliations, regarding the emergence of a modern Lebanese state and their theoretical and ideological sources for writing history.

According to the ACRPS press release, the author addresses a set of hypotheses common among Maronite historians, such as the notion of Lebanon as a refuge, as expounded by Henri Lammens and adopted by Jawad Boulos, and the need to “clean out the cobwebs,” in Kamal Salibi’s writings, which Kawtharani applies in developing his thought on Amir Fakhreddine Al-Mani. He also reviews the works of Ibrahim Awwad and Tawfiq Touma concerning the cadastral system and private ownership in Mount Lebanon.

The book considers Druze history from the perspectives of Abbas Abu Salih and Sami Makarem; Sunni history through Mohammad Jamil Bayhum’s works; and Shia history through the writings of Ali Zain and Mohammad Jabir Al-Safa.

Kawtharani concludes his study with a critical perspective on historical methodology as reflected in the work of these historians. He observes that the historical pyramid in Lebanon is inverted: what should be demanded is not a clearing of confessional cobwebs to help consolidate the state, but the cleansing of Lebanese policies in order to first construct the nation state. This cannot be achieved without an effort to secularise policymaking as the basis for citizenship.

 
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