No Cover Image

The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea: 1840–1920

Carol Hakim
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Pages: 376
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea
    Book Description:

    In this fascinating study, Carol Hakim presents a new and original narrative on the origins of the Lebanese national idea. Hakim’s study reconsiders conventional accounts that locate the origins of Lebanese nationalism in a distant legendary past and then trace its evolution in a linear and gradual manner. She argues that while some of the ideas and historical myths at the core of Lebanese nationalism appeared by the mid-nineteenth century, a coherent popular nationalist ideology and movement emerged only with the establishment of the Lebanese state in 1920. Hakim reconstructs the complex process that led to the appearance of fluid national ideals among members of the clerical and secular Lebanese elite, and follows the fluctuations and variations of these ideals up until the establishment of a Lebanese state. The book is an essential read for anyone interested in the evolution of nationalism in the Middle East and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95471-7
    Subjects: History
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction (pp. 1-12)

    Of all the ideologies that have marked the modern era, none has left a deeper imprint on the Arab world than nationalism. No other ideology has aroused as much emotion, passion, and devotion, engendered as much hope and exhilaration, despair and bitterness, and no other ideology has inspired, enthralled, and animated as many people. All the major events that have marked the history of the Arab world in the twentieth century—the wars and the revolutions, the bitter rivalry and antagonism among Arab states, the infighting among ruling elites within the same state, down to the quarrels that have at...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Emergence of Lebanism: The Lebanese Setting (pp. 13-35)

    Periods of crisis are often associated with turmoil and disarray; at the same time, they represent fertile ground for reformation and innovation. It was during such a troubled period, stretching from 1840 to 1860 and marked by social, political, and communal strife in Mount Lebanon, that projects advocating the establishment in Mount Lebanon of a semi-independent entity, ruled by a indigenous Maronite governor, made their first appearance.

    These projects, which marked the earliest signs of the emergence of Lebanism, came about as the result of a specific and intricate conjuncture when internal factors intersected with foreign influence and interference. Locally,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Emergence of Lebanism: The French Connection (pp. 36-64)

    The end of Shihabi rule came as a blow to the Maronite clergy and represented a serious setback to its ambitions. As a result, the Patriarch immediately dispatched to Istanbul a special envoy, Abbot Nicolas Murad, who was assigned the delicate task of “earnestly requesting the immediate return of Emir Bashir II, the only [person] able to put an end to the disasters of Lebanon.”¹ Thus, the Maronite Patriarch, who for a year had tried strenuously to uphold the Emirate, was conceding defeat. Without Bashir II, he was unable to maintain the status quo that had obtained in 1840 or...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The 1860 Massacres and Their Aftermath: A Map for Lebanon (pp. 65-98)

    The massacres of 1860 in Mount Lebanon and Damascus represent a watershed in the history of the Syrian provinces in general, and of Mount Lebanon in particular. Their scope and magnitude ended a long period of crisis and instability that had marked the region since its occupation by Ibrahim Pasha in 1831, its reintegration into the Ottoman Empire in 1840, and the subsequent movement of reforms initiated by the Ottoman government. Underlying fears, expectations, tensions, and contradictions that had been building throughout this troubled period were brought to such an extreme limit, and expressed in such an appalling way during...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Church and the Mutasarrifiyya (pp. 99-136)

    On June 9, 1861, a special administration, generally known as themutasarrifiyya,was established in Mount Lebanon. It provided mainly for a more regular mode of government, which was to be manned locally. The autonomous status of Mount Lebanon was, however, significantly limited. The governor of this district was himself not a native, but a Christian Ottoman official, appointed by, and directly responsible to, the Sublime Porte. The semi-autonomous political system of Lebanon secured, in spite of some initial difficulties, a favorable framework for the restoration of peace and a relative prosperity in the Mountain for nearly six decades.


  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Mutasarrifiyya Framework: An Equivocal Legacy (pp. 137-156)

    With the accommodation of the Church to themutasarrifiyyaregime, the Lebanist ideal slowly subsided, witnessing a long hiatus. Lebanist aspirations and activity surfaced again only at the beginning of the twentieth century when a new secular elite elaborated various projects to reform political and socioeconomic conditions in the Mountain. Several factors then favored the emergence of Lebanist inclinations among members of the secular elite, notably a situation of crisis within the Mountain, a notable movement of change that affected the mountaineers, and the influence of reformist and fledging nationalist movements in the neighboring Syrian provinces and among emigrant communities...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Secular Elite and the Mutasarrifiyya (pp. 157-194)

    By the beginning of the twentieth century, a new generation of local intellectuals and members of the middle class, in alliance with part of the political elite, began to question and contest the prevailing status quo in the Mountain. Alienated by the constrained and clerically dominated polity of the Mountain, this group of “liberals,” as they were often called, challenged the dominance of the Church and the traditional notables, as well as the arbitrary and authoritarian government of themutasarrif. Their movement, closely linked to a struggle for power among different factions of the elite within the Mountain, was distinctly...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The 1908 Revolution and Its Aftermath (pp. 195-212)

    On July 23, 1908, a group of Young Turk rebel officers compelled Sultan Abdul Hamid II to restore the constitution that he had suspended thirty-two years earlier. The prime aim of the rebel officers and activists was to curb the despotism of the Sultan and to establish a government better able to protect the Empire from internal and external threats by means of a reformation and standardization of the central administration.¹ However, due to several internal and external factors, their movement was to have an opposite effect: instead of saving the Empire, it ultimately helped precipitate the end of the...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Toward a Greater Lebanon (pp. 213-260)

    World War I and its aftermath opened new prospects for members of the Lebanese elite within and without the Mountain. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the proclamation of the Wilsonian principles of self-determination encouraged them to shift from their limited reformist autonomist schemes to more ambitious projects encompassing the independence of a Greater Lebanon or a Greater Syria. At the same time, these events established the necessity for members of the elite to make definite choices. It led them, once more, to reexamine and readjust their diverse political options and multiple identities and to spell out what they...

  14. Conclusion (pp. 261-266)

    Since 1920, a controversy over the establishment of a Lebanese state has plagued the contemporary history of the country and generated many disputes and arguments fought out by nationalists making use of conflicting historical narratives. Hence, on the one hand, Lebanese nationalists have tried to vindicate the establishment of a separate Lebanese state by treading a typical nationalist historical narrative, tracing the roots of the Lebanese nationalism in a distant past, and relating the teleological development of a Lebanese nation until the realization of its ultimate goal, namely the establishment of its own state. On the other hand, Arab nationalists...

  15. NOTES (pp. 267-318)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 319-352)
  17. INDEX (pp. 353-364)


You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in to your personal account or through your institution.