Sami Hermes

Whilst a fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies Dr. Sami Hermez was involved in the following works: The Anthropology of Violence: ‘In the Meanwhile: Living Everyday in Anticipation of War in Lebanon’ – Dr. Sami Hermez The project examines how a constant anticipation of political violence in Lebanon has continued to impact the lives of former militia fighters and society at large. My research argues that a constant anticipation of violence haunts everyday life with the spirit of past civil conflicts and the looming threat of future ones. Through this argument I show that people use previously experienced violence as a metaphor for representing present events, which then guides them in their social interactions and in the way they imagine their community and state. In this way, I explore how different segments of society adjust to intermittent periods of political violence and subsequent calm. Several issues emerge from this investigation. The anticipation of violence, a latent violence within everyday life, allows for collective memory of the war to be reproduced and ensures that questions of responsibility and judgment of the past are not forgotten. From within this environment of anticipation, I am also able to describe how people take up political action not simply as acts of resistance but also from within a framework of cynical reason. Finally, I tackle the notion of sacrifice in wartime, where I particularly focus on what it means to dehumanize others and to lose one’s humanity, arguing that the notion of dehumanization is a rhetorical device with hegemonic influence in debates and conversations around war. My ethnographic research relies on fieldwork with former militia fighters, from a broad spectrum of political parties and different stages of Lebanon’s war (1975-1990), as well as with political activists, to inform the way different social processes are constructed. I claim that examining these people’s lives illuminates how practices of anticipation can inspire certain constructions of both state and society.

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