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"Where's the State?" Practicing the Past in Beirut, Lebanon


In geography, "Landscape and Memory" studies focus on the politicized relationship between place and history, referring to this as the "politics of memory." These studies frequently over-privilege two specific foci: nationalism and formal institutions, a focus which excludes the ways that history is contested through place in cases where formal institutions like the state are comparatively "weak." Drawing on Practice Theory, this project attempts show how actors attempt to structure history and the social world in the absence or shadow of institutions like the state through acts of narrative place-making. Focusing on the "Hariri Mosque" in Beirut, Lebanon, I argue that political elites from the Hariri family and Future Movement have used this mosque to tell a story about Lebanon that reproduces sectarianism as the primary category of division by which social life is understood in Lebanon.

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