The literature of the Lebanese diaspora: representations of place and transnational identity

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The Lebanese civil war, which spanned the years of 1975 to 1990, caused the migration of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese citizens, many of whom are still writing of their experiences. Jumana Bayeh presents an important and major study of the literature of the Lebanese diaspora. Focusing on novels produced in the aftermath of Lebanon's protracted civil war, the author explores the complex relationships between place, displacement and belonging, and illuminates the ways in which these writings have shaped a global Lebanese identity. In this groundbreaking study, Bayeh brings out the contradictions inherent in diaspora theory: Does home only exist physically, as an architectural structure or a homeland, or can people conceive an identity independent of home? Can dispersed peoples reconcile a dislocated sense of identity with competing loyalties to both their national homeland and their new countries of settlement? The first to consider closely the significance of this new body of literature as a means of understanding Lebanon's cultural and political history, the book leads these questions towards a more open understanding of diaspora, challenging existing definitions in scholarship and highlighting the dangers of reading the subject in narrow terms. Bayeh's examination of the different facets of Lebanese diasporic literature is closely interwoven with critical theory, contemporary culture and the wider political issues generated by the Lebanese conflict. She considers how these novels explore the trauma of war, reimagine the intimate space of home and question the notion of the nation-state and national territory. Combining literature with history and sociology, Bayeh examines how the literature borne out of this expatriate community develops a diasporic imaginary that is sensitive to the entangled associations of place and identity. Paving the way for new approaches of understanding the question of place in a context of displacement, this book will be vital for researchers of migration studies, diaspora studies and Middle Eastern literature, as well as those interested in the cultures, history and politics of the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherI. B. Tauris
Number of pages277
ISBN (Print)9781780769981
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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