Theses Doctoral

A Landscape of War: On the Nature of Conflict in South Lebanon

Khayyat, Munira

This dissertation is an inquiry into the naturalization of war. It examines forms of life in a rural borderland that is also a battlefield through an ethnographic exploration of the intertwining of war and everyday living on Lebanon's southern border with Israel. Life in these parts, for the most part, revolves around tobacco farming, olive cropping, goat herding and other forms of agricultural practice generating subsistence and income and underpinning an ongoing presence in place.

The southern borderland is also entangled in an ongoing war condition that cyclically erupts, disrupts, destructs, (re)constructs, and has done for generations now. War in South Lebanon has come to be inhabited as "natural"; it is by now a part of southern life, or better yet, insistently generative of a kind of life that continues - in whichever ways and outside of moral judgments - to be viable here. My inquiry unfolds as a journey through landscape as a place of simultaneous dwelling and warring and concerns itself with what constitutes ordinary living in a rural borderland that is also a battlefield.

In what follows I explore how the tobacco-farming village communities of South Lebanon inhabit a long-term and ongoing condition of war in its ordinary, everyday and also violent guises. How do the pathways and rhythms of living in a rural-agricultural margin mesh with the materials and space-times of war? How are military conflicts past, recent and expected recognized, resisted, claimed, encountered, nurtured, inhabited as tabi'i, natural and `adi, habitual, normal? I conceive of this work as an attempt to place war in life; that is to think of war as a condition as generative and constructive (of life) as it is also destructive. What follows then is an ethnographic attempt to give breathing space to the life that goes on in a place of enduring war.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Messick, Brinkley M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 4, 2013