This talk will examine the local dimensions of order and disorder in contemporary Lebanon. Despite extraordinarily regressive social policies and poor public goods provision, Lebanon's postwar regime has remained in power and withstood recent anti-government mobilization. Relying on 18 months of fieldwork and original survey evidence, I argue that consolidation of control over local institutions has contributed to the extraordinary staying power of Lebanon's political elite class. I argue that Lebanon's governing elites began to assume de facto control over local (i.e. municipal) governments during the civil war, and assumed official control of many municipal governments after the conflict ended. Local governments affiliated with Lebanon's governing parties were given beneficial access to basic welfare services and public goods, while more electorally competitive areas were punished. These divergences also help explain local-level patterns of protest across different urban areas during Lebanon's 2019 protest wave.
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Christiana Parreira, PhD is a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University’s Transregional Institute. Her research focuses on how local political institutions affect patterns of regime durability and change. Her dissertation (and book project), The Art of Not Governing: Local Politics in Postwar Lebanon, uses local electoral data, an original survey, participant-observation, and qualitative interviews to show how center-periphery ties have shaped governance outcomes in Lebanon. The dissertation demonstrates that Lebanon’s governing coalition has continually relied on municipal governments throughout the country’s history to selectively reward electoral loyalty and punish opposition, foreclosing opportunities for voters to hold incumbents accountable at the ballot box. Her other research examines how local institutions and actors affect welfare outcomes in the modern Middle East. Dr. Parreira received her PhD in political science from Stanford University in August 2020.