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Failure in the air: activist narratives, in-group story-telling, and keeping political possibility alive in Lebanon

Devecchi Musallam, Fuad (2020) Failure in the air: activist narratives, in-group story-telling, and keeping political possibility alive in Lebanon. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 26 (1). 30 - 47. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.13176

Abstract

Failure is often taken as an endpoint: anathema to political organizing and the death knell of social movements. To the degree that radical movements themselves dwell on failure, participants often consider the focus pathological. This article explores how, in the aftermath of the falling apart of long‐term initiatives, Lebanese political activists were able to maintain their capacity to engage in transformative action. At a time when activists felt ‘failure in the air’, narrating prior political experiences communally, in formal and informal contexts, became crucial to (re)imagining one another as activists. Such stories narrated failure to compel collective action in the future, making failure itself a political resource; not the end, but a beginning. Throughout, this article engages in an affirmative anthropology that keeps alive the costs of failure even as it shows how radical political actors generate their capacity to act and their potential to imagine otherwise.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://rai.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/146796...
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2019 10:45
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 23:28
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/102695

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