Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Amy Mills

Abstract

This research looks at the Maronites of Beirut and examines, from their perspective, the role of belonging, imagined geographies, and memories of place in the processes of making and informing Maronite identity in Beirut after the civil war of 1975. The civil war of 1975 allows me to examine the city’s change in demographics in relation to the Green Line that divided the city between a Muslim West Beirut, and a Christian Eastern Beirut during the civil war. The thesis approaches Beirut’s homogenous neighborhoods, a result of the city’s cantonization during the civil war, as problematic for the future of the country. The first major contribution of this research is an illustration of the city from a Maronite perspective; I offer a pre-1975 Beirut and its neighborhoods compared with a post-civil war Beirut. The second chapter contributing to the body of research is a chapter that examines one specific neighborhood of the city and its major role in the processes of identity making for Maronites in Beirut. I identify consociational democracy as an institutionalized divide in the country that prevents the different ethno-religious groups from effectively communicating; in turn, this divide, illustrated by the city’s homogenous neighborhoods, reinforces the misconceptions and exclusive imagined geographies fostered within. In my research, I interviewed 24 Maronites including those with lived experiences in the city before the civil war, and a younger generation who do not remember the civil war; I compare and contrast their experience to propose a way forward.

Included in

Geography Commons

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