Emigration and the State in the Middle East and North Africa
Laurie A. Brand
Cambridge Middle East Studies (No. 23)
Print Publication Year: 2006
Online Publication Date:September 2009
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511491498.006
Of the cases covered in this book, Lebanon's migration is the oldest and its communities the most widespread. Beginning with waves directed principally toward the Western Hemisphere in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, significant diaspora communities subsequently developed in Africa and then in the oil states of the Persian Gulf. With the outbreak of civil war in 1975, new groups left; some changed the confessional composition of existing communities, while others began to shape the development of largely new groupings in Canada, Europe and Australia. The long and varied Lebanese emigrant experience has also given rise to more diverse terminology for those who have left than one finds in other cases. In Lebanese discussions of the topic, the most common term for those abroad is mughtarib (“expatriate”), although in recent years al-intishar (a word akin to diaspora) has gained increasing currency, just as one finds the terms mutahaddir (“descendant,” referring to the second, third and fourth generations) and muhajir (“one who has emigrated/fled”).
Like Morocco and Tunisia, Lebanon witnessed the beginnings of significant emigration during the pre-independence period. However, unlike the Maghrebi cases, Lebanese emigration was undertaken on individual initiative, not on a colonial government-organized work-contract basis. At the beginning of the migration, the territory was part of the Ottoman Empire, and what was finally delineated as the Lebanese state did not coincide with the historical boundaries of Mt. Lebanon.