An 'informal tented settlement' in Lebanon's Bekaa valley

It does not Need a Push-back to Push Back

The Perception of Political Violence Among Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
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Ever since the outbreak of the Syrian ‘civil war’ in the aftermath of the Arab Uprising 2011, Lebanon has become the number one host country for Syrian refugees.  With a population of only six million people, Lebanon has been hosting around 1.5 million Syrians.  While in the first years there was still a limited sort of solidarity with fleeing people, this has been decreasing due to the longevity of the war in Lebanon’s neighbor country and the severe domestic economic crisis that Lebanon is going through since 2019 (see I3; see I6).  

Besides, post-conflict sentiments influence the perception of Syrians in general. Up until 2005, when the last troops left the country, Syria was still an occupational force in Lebanon – the practice of forced disappearances was widely used which is present in the Lebanese memory until date (see Shaery-Yazdi 2021; Sriram 2013, 122ff.). The Cedar Revolution that pushed out Syria’s occupational forces was also the founding moment of the two opposing political blocks: the pro-Syrian March 8 and the anti-Syrian March 14 (Sriram 2013, 122ff.).

Against this background, the use of political violence against political opponents, journalists, and marginalized groups such as Syrians to distract the public’s eyes from broader (mal-) developments is nothing new but rather something well researched (see Knudsen/Yassin 2012). However, something that has not been dealt with enough is how various forms of political violence develop across time-space and how they are experienced. For the latter purpose, I put a special emphasis on emotional layers of political violence and the body level as these are often underrepresented and devalued as irrational or unimportant in research (cf. Fattah/Fierke 2009, 70). 

Therefore, the following article undertakes a first approach to analyze in how far Syrian refugees experience political violence in Lebanon along and through multiple spatial scales. The leading research question is: How and where is political violence executed against Syrian refugees in Lebanon? To grasp the world of perception, expert interviews with eight NGOs were conducted that are active at the intersection of psychosocial support and advocacy. I start by outlining my methodology and ethical considerations, then come to my theoretical lenses (political violence and space), and then the description of my empirical material. The last chapter analyzes the collected data and connects it back to theory before I come to the conclusion. 

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Heinich Boell Foundation
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