Lebanon today is at a fateful crossroads in its eventful socio-cultural and political history. Imperiled by unsettling transformations, from postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation to the forces of postmodernity and globalism, it remains adrift. In this landmark study, Samir Khalaf explores how ordinary citizens, burdened by the consequences of an ugly and unfinished war, persisting regional rivalries, mounting economic deprivation and diminishing prospects for well-being, find meaning and coherence in a society that has not only lost its moorings and direction, but also its sense of control. Khalaf argues that a mood of lethargy and indifference prevails, with a growing tendency for the Lebanese to seek refuge in religiosity, communalism and cloistered spatial identities, or temporary relief in the allure of mass consumerism.
Samir Khalaf is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Behavioral Research, American University of Beirut.
Contents Preface by Ghassan Hage 7 Prologue 13 1. On Protracted and Displaced Collective Violence 31 2. The Spaces of War and Postwar: Reflections on Collective Memory, Identity and Nostalgia 75 3. Consumerism in a Traumatized Society 115 4. Touting Luxury, Sensuality and Image 161 5. The Allure of the Spectacle and Kitsch 210 6. Prospects for Transforming Consumers Into Citizens 240 Epilogue 267 Bibliography 275 Acknowledgments 287 Index 289