A revolution to topple the dominant political elite in Lebanon has just united the Lebanese people. Given the relative ineffectiveness of urban social movements during the past years, how was this unity possible within a leaderless revolution?
Drawing on the findings of the Public Authorities and Legitimacy Making project (PALM), this blog sheds light on the way understanding public authorities could give way to understanding the October 17 revolution events in Lebanon, and roots it in the dynamics of legitimacy making practices of state and non-state public authorities.
The blog claims that structured practices belonging to state and non-state authorities in Lebanon shaped a recent history that led to the creation of popular affinities around universal values, and reconstituted citizens’ perception of state authority, leading to the unique condition in which the Lebanese were able to stand united for change against growingly unpopular traditional state authorities.
Project: “Public Authority and Legitimacy Making (PALM): host-refugee relations in urban Jordan and Lebanon”
This project entitled Public Authority and Legitimacy Making (PALM) is part of and seeks to contribute to a research programme on “Security & Rule of Law (SRoL), and is funded by NWO-WOTRO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research | WOTRO Science for Global Development).
The Public Authorities and Legitimacy-Making (PALM) project will use mixed methods approaches to understand what everyday practices bestow legitimacy on state and non-state actors attempting to exercise public authority in the most fragile urban settings in Lebanon and Jordan.
Since the end of the Lebanese Civil war in 1990 the prominent vision of rebuilding Beirut as a revived pre-war Paris of the Middle East dominated the governance imaginary in Lebanon. Beginning with the government authorized vision of the late prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and not ending with Merkel’s predominantly economic visit to Lebanon this June, which is supposed to have focused on refugee issues, and the surge of international development projects implemented and underway in Lebanon post the refugee crisis reforms, development seems to be the dominant trend.
While novel projects are taking place, the fact remains that development as socio-urban reforms remains over a century old tool in Lebanon initiated by Ottoman and french mandates that treated the city as a territory to intervene on through urban reform. While today voices such as that of the Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil contend that the international community is looking to settle refugees, hence implicitly question the ulterior motives behind such development projects and practices, other concerns regarding development ought to be considered beyond the demographic: Mainly, (1) the place of development as an urban reform tool in today’s cities and (2) whether governments could or not use development reforms as tools through which they derive their legitimacy and the citizen’s consent to their reforms. Read More