Breaking the Cycle of Crises in Lebanon: Grassroots Strategies of De-sectarianization Between 2015 and 2020
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Inspired by the latest anti-establishment protests in Lebanon, this thesis investigates how and why a pattern of non-sectarian movements emerged in the country’s consociational context since 2015. The analysis zooms in on (i) the post-civil war evolution of Lebanon’s political economy and the grievances it exacerbated in citizens, and (ii) the strategies by which the new wave of movements re-negotiate their room for manoeuvre within the Lebanese political structure. In order to illustrate these grassroots strategies, the thesis describes and contrasts the discourse, as well as the concrete actions of two non-sectarian movements. First, a ‘civil society’ political coalition titled Kollouna Watani is introduced that challenged the established elites by competing in Lebanon’s 2018 general elections. Second, the mass protest movement starting in October 2019 is examined which demanded structural reforms in the country’s sectarian power-sharing order. The author situates her analysis in the recently emerged debate on the process of ‘de-sectarianization’ in the Middle East that discusses the possibilities for de-constructing instrumentally and institutionally reinforced boundaries in multi-confessional societies. By combining this lens with materials supporting the agency of social movements, the thesis contributes to the understanding of Lebanese grassroots actors’ potential and challenges to push for non-sectarian transformation from the bottom up.