Inside and Outside the law

Negotiated Being and Urban Jouissance in the Streets of Beirut

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 University of Melbourne ghage@unimelb.edu.au
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Abstract

In this article I begin by noting a certain jouissance in Beiruti urban culture that co-exists with an ongoing history of intercommunal conflict and the failure of centralized planning. I then examine the irreverent celebration of this ‘outside-the-law’ culture by a group of middle-class immigrants who have returned to Beirut to enjoy its free spaces. I argue that these outside-the-law spaces are characterized by a particular form of sociality that I define as ‘negotiated being’. It is a dyadic and horizontal relation typified by a permanent state of relating and being attuned to the other without involving the law as a mediating third party. This makes for a more particularist and libidinal sociality that explains the forms of jouissance emanating from it.

Contributor Notes

Ghassan Hage is a Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne. He teaches and publishes in the areas of diasporic cultures, critical anthropological theory and the comparative anthropology of nationalism, multiculturalism, and racism. His current research and writing is on the Lebanese diaspora and on the cognitive and political affinity between anti-racism and radical ecological thought. E-mail: ghage@unimelb.edu.au

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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