Wajih Kawtharani: The Problematics of State and Community and Issues of Methodology in Lebanese Historical Writing: From Communal Refuge to Confessional Infestation

07 May, 2014
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 The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has recently published a new book by Wajih Kawtharani, entitled The Problematics of State and Community and Issues of Methodology in Lebanese Historical Writing: From Communal Refuge to Confessional Infestation (102 pages). 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. He 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 Shiite 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 the 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 secularize policy-making as the basis for citizenship. Click here to purchase a copy of the Center's books and to learn the location of the nearest distributor.

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