Consociationalism and Civil Resistance in Lebanon

in collaboration with the American University of Beirut

LSE PI: Dr Jinan Al-Habbal
Duration: September 2021 - March 2023

Protestors sitting around a banner saying 'Our blood is a red line #Lebanon revolts' with names of towns around the edges.
photo_cameraProtests in Beirut, October 2019. Photo: Ali Hani.

Starting with Tunisia in December of 2010, the wave of Arab Spring popular uprisings soon spread to other Arab regimes that were either overthrown, implemented reforms, or fell into civil wars. A few protests took place in Lebanon, but the political system remained largely unscathed.

In October 2019, mass peaceful protests spontaneously erupted in Lebanon against the political systems and the sectarian elite. Hundreds of thousands of protestors from all walks of life demanded an end to rampant corruption and persistent clientelism that have exacerbated the economic struggles in Lebanon. It was a major juncture in collective action and resistance, transcending sectarian identities and socioeconomic statuses, and gave hope to those seeking change. But the protests were met with police violence, arrests, and co-optation. Since then, Lebanon has suffered from financial collapse, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Beirut port explosion on 4 August 2020.

This collaborative research project examines the reactions of the Lebanese regime towards protest movements and the resilience of the country’s political system. It focuses on activists’ strategies and narratives as well as the tactics deployed to thwart these mass protests and threaten collective action. The project also investigates and tracks the networks and non-violent strategies that continue beyond street protests, as well as looking at the changing nature of opposition amidst disaster and multiple tragedies. With a focus on activists’ experiences, the project aims to develop a methodology that would enhance political agency by sharing lessons learnt with actors on the ground through publications and events.

This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.

Research Team

Jinan Al-Habbal

Jinan Al-Habbal | Principal Investigator

Jinan is Research Officer at LSE and a Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies (CSS) at the University of St Andrews.

Maria El Sammak

Maria El Sammak | Research Assistant

Maria is a junior consultant at the Berghof Foundation. She has a degree in Political Science/International Affairs from the Lebanese American University with an emphasis in Conflict Resolution.

Carmen Geha

Carmen Geha | Consultant (former)

Carmen is a senior member in the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration (GRITIM-UPF), at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Pompeu Fabra University.