Lezing Sara Fregonese: Salvaged, lost, contingent, hybrid. Genealogies of sovereignty in Lebanon, 1958-2018.

27-04-2018 van 10:00 tot 11:30
Paddenhoek 1, 9000 Gent, lokaal 1.3
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Conflict Research Group
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Debates in Conflict & Development: rethinking statehood & governance

Lecture Sara Fregonese: Salvaged, lost, contingent, hybrid. Genealogies of sovereignty in Lebanon, 1958-2018.


Sovereignty is traditionally defined as the state’s exclusive control of a bordered territory and of "the means of internal and external violence" (Giddens 1981: 190) within it. In this light, foreign policy analysts consider Lebanon as a country whose sovereignty is ‘weak’, a tenet which has underpinned military intervention into Lebanon to ‘restore’ sovereignty in 2006, and to provide remarkable military aid more recently. This has not always been the case, though. This lecture looks at how international approaches to Lebanon’s sovereignty have shifted over time, prompting intervention or non-intervention in subsequent instances of intra-state conflict in Lebanon: Operation Blue Bat (1958); the start of the civil war (1975-76); the ‘7 May’ armed clashes (2008). Firstly, it contextualises Lebanon’s ‘weak’ sovereignty discourse within specific and situated geopolitical codes, which influenced international views of Lebanese sovereignty and prompted policies of intervention or non-intervention. Secondly, it highlights how these international views of Lebanon’s sovereignty shaped and were shaped by specific urban geographies and imaginaries of urban space. Thirdly, it offers differential accounts of sovereignty as practiced on the urban ground, both by state and non-state actors. Finally, the lecture offers some reflections and questions about the present state of sovereignty in Lebanon, in light of the Syria crisis.


Sara Fregonese is Birmingham Fellow in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on the relationship between geopolitics, conflict and urban life. She is specialised on geographies of urban conflict, especially in Lebanon. Her current work includes social polarisation, urban warfare, post-terror situations, and historical geographies of sectarianism. She has co-authored the monograph The radicals' city. Urban environment, polarisation, cohesion (Routledge 2013) and her second monograph, War and the City: urban geopolitics in Lebanon is in preparation with IB Tauris. She has published in journals including Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Political Geography, Geopolitics, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.