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Accepted Paper:

From 'becoming parents' to 'becoming life partners': on men, marriage, and accidental feminism in contemporary Lebanon  
Sabiha Allouche (SOAS, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on recent fieldwork to argue that marriage in contemporary Lebanon is increasingly articulated along the rhetoric of 'becoming life partners' rather than 'becoming parents'.

Paper long abstract:

This paper works through the theoretical framework of the 'political economy of love' (Padilla et al., 2008), and draws on empirical data collected from recent fieldwork, in order to argue that the discourse of marriage in contemporary Lebanon is increasingly articulated along the rhetoric of 'becoming life partners', rather than 'becoming parents'. This shift is twofold. Firstly, the relevance of leisure and pleasure, affect and bonding, in addition to a consumerist life projected towards a 'good future', are inconsistent with the western depiction of a Middle East that disagrees with 'love' and 'fun'. Secondly, this shift urges us to rethink the western conceptualization of intimacy itself. If anything, prospective marriage partners in Lebanon actively seek the inclusion of others during the consolidation of their partnership. This inclusion, however, does not limit or attenuate the affective bond between partners, and is seen as necessary for the safeguarding of their relationship on the long-term. Both conclusions co-reside along an emerging masculinity that is one step closer to 'letting go' of inherited patriarchal praxis. Still, and before jumping to celebratory conclusions, I prefer to refer to said emerging masculinity as 'accidental feminism', seeing the outside-inside linearity of the forces of change (immigration, geopolitics, economy) that accompanied such shift.

Panel P001
Anthropology of the "New Arab Man"
  Session 1