Disarticulation and chains of equivalence: agonism and non-sectarian movements in post-war Beirut

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Divided cities are characterised by intergroup contestation over the wider issue of state legitimacy. Violent conflict has left a legacy of segregation, weak public services and clientelistic networks. Debates and practices for conflict management in divided cities centre on accommodationist or integrationist approaches. While accommodationist methods seek to recognise and accommodate ethnosectarian divisions within public institutions, it risks intensifying ethnosectarian polarisation and empowering elites to deepen control over communities. Integrationist methods, alternatively, aim to foster shared identities and relationships between groups, but are too optimistic in assuming that divisions can be overcome through rational deliberation. As an alternative, I deploy Mouffe’s theory of agonistic conflict to show how various non-sectarian movements contest the hegemony of a sectarian system that reproduces exclusion and inequality. To this end, I use key dimensions of agonism – ‘rearticulation/disarticulation’ and ‘chains of equivalence’– to analyse different types of non-sectarian actors andsuccessive waves of protest, known as ‘You Stink’ and the ‘Thawra’, in post-war Beirut.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThird World Quarterly
Early online date19 Jul 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Jul 2021


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