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Interlopers of EmpireThe Lebanese Diaspora in Colonial French West Africa$
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Andrew Arsan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199333387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199333387.001.0001

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The Ties that Bind

The Ties that Bind

Diasporic Political Culture in AOF

(p.191) 7 The Ties that Bind
Interlopers of Empire

Andrew Arsan

Oxford University Press

This chapter reconstructs the political thoughts and sentiments, affiliations, desires and aspirations of Lebanese shopkeepers and traders in interwar Senegal. These, it contends, must be stitched back into our understanding of political culture and political thought in the interwar Middle East. This can, in turn, revise our understanding of the region’s history in several ways — by drawing attention to migrants, conventionally left to other histories and other historians; by turning our gaze away from nationalism, which has exerted an enduring fascination on scholars; and by drawing attention to the prosaic, everyday nature of this diasporic politics. Lebanese migrants to West Africa did not simply attempt to remain plugged into the politics of home, reminding of their existence a nation which simply carried on without them, regarding them as out of sight and out of mind. On the contrary, they sought to challenge these hierarchies, and to cast themselves as a vanguard, moving ahead of a homeland mired in factional struggle and petty nepotism.

Keywords:   homeland, diasporic life, interwar, political culture, political thought, nationalism

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