chapter  8
19 Pages

Looking for Respect: Lebanese Immigrant Young Men in Australia


The 2006 census recorded 74,850 Lebanese-born people in the Australian population (Department of Immigration and Citizenship 2006). Some 0.7 per cent of the population, or about 140,000, identifi ed a Lebanese ancestry (with 86 per cent of the Lebanese-born doing so). The combined effects of a lopsided economic development and undemocratic communal politics, along with being situated in a region ridden with national and international confl icts, gives Lebanon a strong propensity to export inhabitants seeking better fortunes. The economic disintegration of the Muqata` aji system (a form

of feudalism) between 1840 and 1860 in Mount Lebanon and the growing integration of the mountain economy into the expanding market of British and French capitalism have coincided with a continuing process of emigration from Lebanon up to the present. Prior to the 1870s, a small number emigrated from Lebanon, primarily those who were sent by the Maronite Catholic Church since the seventeenth century to study in Rome and return to Mount Lebanon as learned clergy to serve the Church. In addition, a relatively small number of Christians left Lebanon during this period for “Egypt and the main centres of trade between Europe and the Near East-Livorno, Marseille, Manchester” (Hourani and Shehadi 1992: 5). While the impact of the Maronite Church’s linkages with Rome is beyond the scope of this chapter, we may surmise that these left their mark on the perception of the local community about the advanced and attracting character of the West.