Lebanon Beyond Exceptionalism
Ziad M. Abu-Rish
Ziad Abu-Rish is an assistant professor in the History Department and founding director of the Middle East and North Africa Studies program at Ohio University. He is co-editor of Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya e-zine, and co-director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) and the Lebanon Dissertation Summer Institute.
This chapter presents an analytic narrative of modern state, market, and class formation in the territories that constitute the Republic of Lebanon. Beginning in the nineteenth century and moving forward to the early twenty-first century, the narrative arc historicizes the area’s political economy, exploring changes and continuities across the late Ottoman, French Mandate, and post-colonial periods. The chapter eschews culturalist and deterministic analysis, highlighting how political economy sheds light on key junctures in historical and contemporary Lebanon. The chapter also challenges the relative silence on Lebanon in the literature on comparative political economy, demonstrating how the case of Lebanon can advance our understanding of the broader regional political economy.
Keywords: Lebanon, Laissez-faire Economy, Merchant Republic, Chehabism, Post-War Reconstruction, Lebanese Exceptionalism