Intimate Politics: The Art of the Political Relationship in Lebanon

Abstract : Th is article aims to analyse the patron–client relationship through a detailed ethnography of the everyday life of Walid Junblat's followers in Lebanon. It reveals how intimate people are with political fi gures, talking to them (in the form of their pictures), talking about them, thinking through them, playing off this intimacy to enter the political competition. Patrons also play their part in this relationship. Th e weekly political gatherings held at Junblat's Palace are the apex of this aesthetic of power. Detailed observations indicate how the lord orchestrates and varies the tempo of his interactions with the ritual audience, adding complexity and fl uidity to the relation. Th e protracted confrontation that has been plaguing Syria for three years has revived the familiar schema of oriental tyranny, comprehended as absolute control of power and resources enforced on the society through forms of threat and violence. 1 For decades, studies of domination and violence in the Arab world have viewed them through the schema of asymmetrical personal relations, which foster visible practices of power and ostentatious challenges. While patron–client relationships have received attention in anthropological literature, relatively little work has considered the centrality of intimacy in building these kinds of personal relationships. Th e term 'relations' in patron– client relations has long been taken as a structural link that aims to character-ise one typical form of social relation. Patron–client relation refers to a form of asymmetrical exchange (protection versus support or jobs versus the vote, for example) and is fuelled with personal marks of power and allegiance. It is crucial to theorise the notion of relations as being more than a mere structural or formal link between individuals or social groups in such a way as
Type de document :
Article dans une revue
Anthropology of the Middle East, Berghahn Journals, 2014, 9, pp.1 - 17. 〈10.3167/ame.2014.090102〉
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Contributeur : Isabelle Rivoal <>
Soumis le : mercredi 28 décembre 2016 - 17:56:04
Dernière modification le : mercredi 2 janvier 2019 - 11:52:03
Document(s) archivé(s) le : mardi 21 mars 2017 - 11:34:21


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Isabelle Rivoal. Intimate Politics: The Art of the Political Relationship in Lebanon. Anthropology of the Middle East, Berghahn Journals, 2014, 9, pp.1 - 17. 〈10.3167/ame.2014.090102〉. 〈hal-01421176〉



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