Governing Dahiya: Interrogating the State in Beirut’s Southern Suburbs
Keywords:multi-level governance, Hizbullah, Lebanon, non-state actors, Shia Islam, state theory, urban development
Lebanon, a multi-confessional country with an established consociational democracy, is facing the threat of slipping into state failure as it grapples with its soaring political and economic crisis. The country’s governing system has come under increased and perhaps unprecedented scrutiny since the outbreak of popular protests in 2019 as many accuse an oligarchic political and sectarian elite of subordinating the State to their private interests. Based on an empirical examination of the politics of post-war reconstruction in Beirut’s southern suburbs, this article examines regimes of rule beyond the limitations of the seemingly dichotomous categories of State and non-state. The empirical inquiry presented in this article argues for a state analysis that is less concerned with discerning and deciphering where the State begins (or ought to begin) and where its non-state other(s) end (or ought to end), but is concerned instead with unpacking the real and messy workings of government. Rather than relativising the weak-state thesis, this article seeks to extend and complicate our understanding of the State (in Lebanon and beyond) by locating regimes of rule within a broader, dynamically evolving social whole.
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