This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book reexamines sectarianism as a process, as opposed to an essentialized or primordial identity, through a focus on the urban infrastructures and services provided and managed, in part, by institutions affiliated with sectarian parties and religious organizations, as well as municipalities and transnational organizations. It builds on the careful work of scholars who situate the production of sectarianism in Lebanon as a modern social and political phenomenon that is dynamic and processual. The remainder of the chapter discusses the “roots” of sectarianism from the Ottoman Empire to the French mandate, Armenians in Lebanon, the making of an Armenian public sphere in Bourj Hammoud, and the civil war of 1975–90 and its aftermath.
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