Everyday Sectarianism in Urban Lebanon Infrastructures, Public Services, and Power By Joanne R. Nucho (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. 168 pages.)

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Muneeza Rizvi



In Everyday Sectarianism, anthropologist and filmmaker Joanne Nucho
examines the inextricable links between sectarian belonging, Lebanon’s
confessional system of governance, and neighborhood infrastructures developed
in the absence of the state (a refrain throughout the book is wayn
al dawleh?). Departing from orientalist accounts that represent sectarianism
as a static and primordial conflict of identities, Nucho argues that
sectarianism in Lebanon is a modern, relational, and political process of
continual (re)construction. In this sense, her account draws from existing
literature on the Lebanese state that emphasizes sectarianism’s contingent
character (see, for example, Ussama Makdisi 2000; Max Weiss 2010; Suad
Joseph 2008). For these scholars, sectarianism is not a given mode of being in the world. Rather, it is a project inseparable from questions of gender,
class, geography, and the state, and cannot be “collapsed onto religion or
theology” (4).

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