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The Lebanese Census of 1932 Revisited. Who Are the Lebanese?

Rania Maktabi
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Nov., 1999), pp. 219-241
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/195924
Page Count: 23
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The Lebanese Census of 1932 Revisited. Who Are the Lebanese?
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Abstract

The Lebanese state is analysed as a membership organization where both formal-legal and political objectives control admission. The 1932 census played a fundamental role in the state-building process of the Lebanese state: political representation was based on its findings, it was the basis for personal registration of the population residing on Lebanese territories, and it formed one of the cornerstones for obtaining citizenship in the Lebanese state. This article shows that the way the census figures were presented and analysed embodies issues of contest regarding the identity of the Lebanese state and who its members should be. The restrictive citizenship policy practised by the Maronite-dominated regime until the outbreak of the civil war in 1975 is understood as a means to sustain political domination in an ethnically divided society. Lebanon provides an example of the political sensitivity of demographic figures in polities where fixed proportional representation constitutes the main principle of representative political organization.

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