Monday 11 April 2016 (7:00 to 8:15pm – All are Welcome)
Title: Fakhreddin II al-Ma`ni
Precursor of Lebanese Nationalism: Facts and Perceptions
Speaker: Dr. Naila Takieddine Kaidbey
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI many Lebanese intellectuals began to seriously discuss the nature of the political entity to be established. What is interesting and relevant to our talk today is not the economic, social or political justification but rather the historical one.
Bulus Nujaym, a Lebanese intellectual of the early 20th century argued that a Greater Lebanon was simply a return to the Lebanon of Fakhreddin Ma’n who “fashioned a well-organized state with Lebanon as its center… a state with a life of its own… led by an Enlightened Despot (Fakhreddin)…”
There is nothing unusual for Lebanese nationalists, seeking historical precursors of a Nation State, to search their past for some ‘golden age’ or local ‘heroes’.
In an effort to separate between historical facts and perceptions, I will try to examine at this time, whether this ‘myth’ of Fakhreddin’s ‘Lebanon’ or ‘Lebanese State’ has a more distant origin than the mid-nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. Or whether it was an attempt by local intellectuals to create this new ‘Lebanese nationalism’.
Unfortunately the creation of this type nationalism accentuated divisions already inherent in this multi-ethnic and multi-faith society, and paved the way for the instability that plagued the country ever since, and that are still frighteningly present today.
Naila Takieddine Kaidbey has a PhD in history. She is a faculty member at Department of History and Archeology at the American University of Beirut.
The Civil War of 1860 is entrenched in the memory of the Lebanese people as the biggest sectarian turmoil in their history. Tales about it have been handed down by families for generation
October 2011 an international Symposium was held in Beirut under the joint hospices of USJ, IFPO and the University of Balamand. The theme of the symposium was: 1860: History and Memoryof a Conflict.Naila was a member of the organizing committee and presented a paper about Druze Participants in the mayhem of 1860.
It took a great deal of heated debate before they finally agreed on the title. Christians refer to these events as Massacres, the Druze as hawadith, and the objective researchers as a civil war. In light of the current events and the tendency to explain all events in terms of sectarianism, we believed extreme caution should be exercised hence the non-committed title leaving it to the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Many works have been written about the various aspects of the subject. Naila chose to focus on a narrow aspect the heroes and villains on both sides of the divide. As compatriots bear arms against each other, wanton bloodshed is common to all, brutality rewarded with adulation and the very fabric of a society’s humanity torn apart at the seams.