By not addressing the root causes of its civil war, Lebanon’s political leaders have caused it to remain entangled in various forms of political violence in its postwar period argues Sami Hermez, assistant professor of anthropology at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q), in a new book published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
The book, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon, sheds light on the impact of protracted conflict on people’s everyday experiences and the way people anticipate political violence.
“Professor Hermez’s book highlights the need for alternative paths in Lebanon for it to sustain its political and social life,” said Everette E Dennis, dean and CEO. The dean also added that Hermez’s research on the root causes of conflict and the political dynamics in Lebanon is an important contribution to the ongoing dialogue on how to sustain peace in Lebanon.
Hermez contends that the peace agreement that followed and officially propelled the country into a post-war era did not address many of the root causes of war, nor did it hold the main actors accountable. He argues that despite the decision by the political elite to consign the war to the past through the politics of ‘no victor, no vanquished,’ bombings, assassinations, and outbreaks of armed combat persist.
Hermez’s book has received praise from Lara Deeb of Scripps College who said it was ‘deeply poignant’, ‘eloquently written’ and altogether ‘fascinating’. She said the book offers a glimpse of how violence is lived in multiple temporal registers in Lebanon, and how both remembering past and anticipating future violence critically shape lived experience in the present.
Hermez has been at NU-Q since 2014 and has held posts as visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, visiting professor of contemporary international Issues at the University of Pittsburgh, visiting professor of anthropology at Mt Holyoke College, and post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies, St Antony’s College, Oxford University.