RELIGION, THE OTHER, AND LEAVING LEBANON: Themes and insights from Lebanese Anglophone post-war fiction

Senior thesis


Schayegh, Cyrus [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Near Eastern Studies [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
The paper examines selected works from five writers of the Lebanese Diaspora who work primarily in English. Themes found commonly in post-war Lebanese fiction like trauma, memory, and loss play significant roles in these works but have been written about extensively elsewhere. Sectarianism, the oftbandied watch-word that serves as a starting point for many, especially Western, explanations and descriptions of the 1975-1989 Civil War in Lebanon is explicitly absent as a focus or means of explanation from the novels represented here. Yet far from denying or ignoring the issues surrounding sectarianism and its existence and relation to the conflict, the authors of these works delve into questions of identity and the relationship of identity, conflict, nation, and life (or happiness, or human existence, or leaving one’s home country). This paper examines how Lebanese Anglophone authors explore the impact of religion on daily life, the ways in which people perceive and relate to the “other”, and what it means to be Lebanese – particularly when one has left or plans to flee the country. In conclusion, the paper argues that the themes laid out in these novels are significant in their contribution to the memory of the civil war in Lebanon, for the Lebanese and the broader international community because they shed light on human tendencies in interacting with each other.

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