Online politics and grassroots activism in Lebanon: negotiating sectarian gloom and revolutionary hope
- Publisher: Taylor & Francis
This article describes the confluence of online activism and street protests in Lebanon. While Arab protesters have systematically been portrayed as young, urban and wired since the 2011 uprisings, Lebanese activists are also often regarded as trapped between war and sectarianism. This article challenges both frameworks and looks closer at the ways pre-existing waves of discontent crystallised into the mobilisation of thousands of Lebanese onto the streets of Beirut in 2010 and 2011. To achieve this, the article critiques the over-emphasis on network politics that accompanies internet-related hypotheses. The fashioning of a new kind of politics outside the dominant political factions (‘8–14 March’ blocs) was crucial for activists in Lebanon. New independent initiatives that locate feminist and queer politics within an overall analysis of imperialism and capitalism, as well as experimentation with digital technologies, helped forge a unique and non-sectarian camaraderie. By conveying the circumstances that have shaped political involvement, this article avoids the projection of non-ideological/networked politics that dominate concepts of online activism. The internet played a dual role in Lebanese grassroots politics, as illustrated through the experiences of the feminist collective Nasawiya.
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