(Re)negotiating Belonging: Nostalgia and Popular Culture in Postwar Lebanon

  • Citation: Tarraf, Zeina. "(Re) negotiating Belonging: Nostalgia and Popular Culture in Postwar Lebanon." Journal of Intercultural Studies 41, no. 3 (2020): 355-369.
    • Topics:
    • Country and Regional Studies
    • Keywords:
    • affect
    • nostalgia
    • popular culture
    • Lebanon
    • national publics

In this article, I explore how national belonging in Lebanon is (re)negotiated in the aftermath of a protracted civil war. More particularly, I investigate the nostalgic underpinnings of Lebanese popular culture, mainly Ziad Doueiry’s hit film, West Beyrouth and the revered singer, Fairouz, to examine what their popularity and deep resonance within Lebanese society reveal about the collective, affective negotiations of living with loss in the Lebanese context. I situate these works within a larger discourse on nostalgia in postwar Lebanon to complicate earlier assertions about nostalgia as an uncritical and insidious affective mode operating largely in service of unjust power relations. While I do not dismiss these earlier theorizations, I argue that an attention to the consumption and circulation of Lebanese popular culture reveals how nostalgia is not only fundamental to the way power operates as a top-down phenomenon, but it is simultaneously embedded within a more diffuse network of narratives and discourses that shape national publics and that unfold as affective negotiations of loss.

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