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Accepted Paper:

Rupture and activist subjectivity: Reflections from Lebanon in the decade between the Arab and Lebanese uprisings  
Fuad Musallam (University of Birmingham)

Paper Short Abstract:

Following the Arab uprisings, Lebanese activists alighted upon a temporality of rupture, which punctuated the future with multiple event-like moments. Experiencing moments of rupture transforms what seems possible, and cultivating those experiences keeps movements going when things fall apart.

Paper Abstract:

This paper traces the development of a distinctive temporality of rupture amongst Lebanese political activists who, in the years following the Arab uprisings, alighted upon an eventful orientation towards the future. Lebanese activism is highly heterogeneous. It has seen the cultivation of alternative social spaces, solidarity organizing with marginalized communities (particularly migrant workers from the Global South), radical intellectual production, and experimentation with multiple political and organizational models: anarchist, autonomist, directly-democratic, broad coalition, separatist and gradualist. This makes it an excellent natural experiment for exploring what is general and what is particular to activist subjectivities, while tracking how they are produced and maintained.

I suggest that experiencing moments of rupture radically transforms what seems possible, and that cultivating these experiences keeps movements going when things appear to fall apart. Through my analysis of the heterogeneity of activism in Lebanon, I argue that some form of a temporality of rupture is fundamental to ‘activism’ as a form of action in the world, whatever its content. Extending the current anthropology of radical politics, I show that though contemporary anarchist and leftist communities offer a privileged site in which to think through activism, there is no necessary correlation between their practice and activism as a kind of activity (though there is a very clear affinity). I provide a conception of activism that can accommodate other forms of political engagement, even and particularly when they are forms that we might find objectionable.

Panel P238
Becoming/ being an activist: reflections on a key political subjectivity of late capitalism
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -