Using Archives in Teaching the History of the Lebanese Diaspora


Migration is an intimate and persistent part of life in Lebanon. From the days of the Mutassarrifyya in the 19th century and through our day, the Lebanese have left their homes, and stretched the ties of society and nation across the globe. In this process, and throughout Lebanon’s modern history, this diasporic experience has touched practically every family. And yet, the topic of Lebanese migration and diaspora is rarely taught and much less understood. It is enshrined in myths with exaggerated numbers and stories of unbridled success. Accordingly, the workshop will look at the causes and process of migration, its effects on gender, class and race, and finally how these transformations were carried back to Lebanon on the bodies and in the suitcases of returning immigrants. This workshop is organized by the Centre for Lebanese Studies and A. Moise Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at North California State University.

This day long workshop seeks to accomplish two things:

-First, it will transcend the myths and begin to shed some light on the complex history of early Lebanese migration (1880-1940).

-Second, it will seek to integrate the history of migration and diaspora into the history of Lebanon arguing that the two are intimately linked and that one cannot understand Lebanon without learning about its immigrants and how their experiences transformed their lives and their home country.