Languages of Stateness in South Lebanon's Palestinian Gatherings: The PLO's Popular Committees as Twilight Institutions
until further notice
SourceDevelopment and Change, 47, 3, (2016), pp. 446-471
21 maart 2016
Article / Letter to editor
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Development and Change
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
Public authority beyond the state has often been seen as isolated from the state and/or constituting a threat to the state. Recent scholarship, however, has started to conceptualize ‘state’ and ‘non-state’ forms of public authority as closely connected and interdependent. This article contributes to this theoretical shift by means of a qualitative case-study of public authority in Palestinian refugee camps in South Lebanon. Lebanon’s Palestinian camps are routinely characterized as ‘states-within-the-state’ undermining the sovereignty of the Lebanese state. Yet, the article demonstrates, both a generic state-idea and the specific Lebanese state-system constitute crucial benchmarks for the Popular Committees that govern informal Palestinian settlements. The article therefore conceptualizes the Popular Committees as ‘twilight institutions’ and explores the ‘languages of stateness’ they adopt both communicatively, vis-à-vis Palestinian competitors, and coordinatively, vis-à-vis Lebanese counterparts. This reveals that the Popular Committees emulate the Lebanese state institutions they come into contact with to bolster their own authority. They partly do so to be viable interlocutors for Lebanese state institutions. As such, the Popular Committees’ non-state authority might validate rather than challenge state authority in Lebanon and thereby shows how state and non-state authority can be mutually constitutive.
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