Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Dividing war: a variety of experiences, a multiplicity of war stories

Posted by worriedlebanese on 12/01/2007

I’m giving a presentation in a couple of hours on the different ways the Lebanese see the war they suffered through last July and August.
My central point is that war could be a shared experience, but its more likely to divide than unify a fragmented society that undergoes it. This hypothesis goes contrary to that formulated by Theodor Hanf in his excellent book “Peace and Coexistence in wartime Lebanon”.
What I will be exposing this afternoon is that the war has provoked a variety of experiences, in the sens that it wasn’t lived by the Lebanese in the same way. This is due to the fact that the country wasn’t bombed and attacked in the same way. The shelling was mainly concentrated in southern Lebanon, the Beqaa, and Beirut’s southern suburb. In these areas, the attacks were very heavy and targeted civilian areas, destroying a great number of buildings, villages and neighborhouds. While in the country’s other regions, the shelling was rather scarce and targeted civil infrastructure only. To put it in communal language, all regions with a Shiite majority were heavily bombarded, while all regions with another denominational majority were not.
The war experience also varied according to wealth and family network. Regardless of their confession, those who could afford it took shelter in a region that was relatively spared.
Moreover, very early on, it became clear that their were different readings of the war, different stories, narratives. And these narratives tend to coïncide with the political preference and denomination of the “narrator”.

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