Census
   
THE LEBANESE EMIGRATION RESEARCH CENTER (LERC)
 

INTRODUCTION

The Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC) is a new academic initiative of Notre Dame University (NDU). The creation of the Center is the direct result of our awareness of the Lebanese emigrants' contribution to their ancestral land and to their new home countries. It is also the result of a new awareness of world identity, ancestral awakening and genealogical interest.

MAJOR ACADEMIC INITIATIVE

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of centers for the study of emigration around the world. The attention now being given to emigration studies is understandable, because emigration, particularly in the last two centuries, has altered and continues to alter the character of many countries and communities around the world. This is an important subject for many communities and it is also of particular importance to us who are Lebanese either by nationality or by descent.

The Lebanese, like other people from the Mediterranean basin, began their present emigration in the middle of the nineteenth century, heading toward North America, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia. There were many 'pushing' and 'pulling' factors that motivated the Lebanese emigration movement, a movement that has left its visible mark both on Lebanon and on the host countries. 

Some facilities already exist for those interested in Lebanese emigration, notably the Ellis Island Museum (New York, USA), The Faris & Yamna Naff Arab American Collection at the National Museum of American History (Washington, D.C., USA), The Near Eastern American Collection at the University of Minnesota (Minnesota, USA), and Pier 21 (Halifax, Canada). Within Lebanon, Notre Dame University has become the first Lebanese university to launch a specific Center for emigration research.

Lebanese emigration has undergone some changes in pattern. Unlike the emigrants of a century or so ago, most of the emigrants of today are highly educated professionals and skilled technicians. Furthermore, the involuntary nature of emigration for some, even today, cannot be overlooked. 

Although the position of Lebanon in the history of emigration may be unique, there is no center dedicated to an integrated academic study of this phenomenon using the methodology of comparison.

Lebanese emigrants have adapted well to their new homelands, many of them becoming elected officials, surgeons, lawyers, businessmen, traders, professors, etc. Though they have contributed greatly to their adopted lands, they have remained attached to Lebanon, if not physically, at least culturally and spiritually. The first ones to venture overseas contributed financially and culturally to the recovery of Lebanon during and after the First and the Second World Wars. As for the recent emigrants, they have family attachments, as well as political, economic, cultural, emotional and spiritual attachments. This position creates anxieties, identity crisis and psychological challenges that should also be considered. 

The LERC at Notre Dame University aims to address the issue of Lebanese emigration in its global context. It hopes to help the Lebanese emigration and its descendants to understand their origins and cultural roles and to enable people in Lebanon to inform themselves about the nature and scale of the Lebanese migrant experience. It also seeks to address some of the new realities of contemporary emigration out of and into the country.

We believe that the creation of the Lebanese Emigration Research Center is timely, since it can be a platform for research and a catalyst for the study of the Lebanese emigration, a subject that has long been neglected, particularly in the Lebanese academic milieu.

VISION STATEMENT

LERC's vision is to become the main research center on - and the chief repository archive for - Lebanese emigration throughout the world.

MISSION STATEMENT

LERC promotes the study of historical and contemporary emigration, to and from Lebanon, within a comparative international framework, using new information and communication technologies. It aims to be the primary resource center for Lebanese emigration studies.

 

OBJECTIVES

 The Center's ultimate objectives are:

  • To examine the history of Lebanese emigration in the context of the history of Lebanon, in the history of the host countries and in the context of world wide emigration;
  • To investigate the assimilation, acculturation and ethnicity of the Lebanese in their new homelands;
  • To study the role of class, gender, language, religion, nationalism, etc. in the Lebanese emigration experience at home and abroad;
  • To house the largest body of research material related to Lebanese emigration; and
  • To encourage interdisciplinary academic research in this and the related fields of Lebanese emigration.

 The Center will investigate worldwide Lebanese migrant experiences and conditions from the 19th century onward. It will study the impact of the earlier emigration on the social and economic life of Lebanon on that of their host countries. It will also analyze the current emigration and the current increasing immigration into Lebanon together with the effect of the latter on Lebanese identity, culture, policies, development and society. 

 The Center will engage, in cooperation with other centers, in the detailed historical reconstruction of the diversity of Lebanese emigration experiences

 The Center will develop databases on various aspects of Lebanese emigration studies and will use new technologies to facilitate access to these databases by a worldwide community of scholars, the interested public and other relevant bodies inside and outside Lebanon.

 The Lebanese Emigration Research Center will: 

  • Conduct scientific research on Lebanese migrants and their descendants in all parts of the world including but not limited to North, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and the Middle East.
  • Create a database system to collect and analyze information on the subject from all possible sources.
  • Build up a library on Lebanese emigration, including books, magazines, CDs and other paper and electronic publications.
  • Design and publish a web site covering comprehensive information on Lebanon and the Lebanese Emigration.
  • Organize conferences on different aspects of the Lebanese emigration. Conference proceedings shall be refereed and published in book form by the LERC.
  • Publish a periodical covering the various activities and events organized by the LERC.
  • Develop an Oral History Program concerned with Lebanese villages and tape individual memoirs on particular emigration experiences.
  • Design a website on present Lebanese villages with all the necessary information significant for the Lebanese abroad in the social, cultural and economic fields.
  • Coordinate with other institutions and research centers, in Lebanon and overseas, on common concerns related to the Lebanese Emigration and the LERC agenda.
  • Recommend and support courses on Lebanese Emigration particularly for students of Political Science, Public Administration and Diplomacy, Arab-American literature, international marketing, and mass communication.
  • Recommend and support eventually an MA program in Emigration Studies with an emphasis on the Lebanese emigration. This program shall be designed to attract graduates in political science, sociology, psychology, geography, anthropology, international affairs, comparative literature and history from NDU and other local and overseas universities.
  • Recommend and support artistic productions, such as paintings, sculptures, music, films, documentaries, and poetry and prose, on the subject of Lebanese emigration.
  • Invite scholars from diverse universities abroad to participate in seminars, lectures and specific research projects conducted by the LERC.
  • Create a network to disseminate and receive information and data concerning the Lebanese communities in Lebanon and abroad.

 PLAN OF ACTION

The LERC has started an on-going research project on the Lebanese emigration movement by region/country/profession including, as much as possible, statistical information and contact addresses.  The project includes the creation of a database system to collect and analyze collected information.

The Center is in the process of building up a library on Lebanese emigration including printed, electronic and audio-visual material.  This library will support the related courses offered at the University and other suggested courses and additional programs.

It plans to organize conferences and seminars on the Lebanese emigration.  Scholars and prominent Lebanese emigrants will be invited to participate. Proceedings will be published in book forms by the LERC.

 LERC also plans to design and publish a website covering the following items:

  • Information on LERC
  • Information on the projects mentioned above
  • Announcements about coming events and publication
  • Statistical information
  • Necessary information on Lebanon and Lebanese villages having a high percentage of emigrants.

Other related projects will be launched with the gradual growth of the LERC.

METHODS

The Center will foster public and academic awareness of emigration issues within Lebanon, within the Lebanese emigration, within new immigrant communities and with professionals in the field through publications, conferences, the provision of online resources and partnerships with outside organizations and agencies.  

The Center will undertake research to explore the links between immigration into Lebanon and emigration, as well as new community/host community relations, integration and social citizenship.  It will seek to develop partnership-based action research projects in collaboration with appropriate local, national and international, voluntary and academic bodies.

The Center will promote, in cooperation with its international partners, comparative cross-cultural and interdisciplinary studies linking research into countries of origin, emigration flows and host countries. 

The Center will develop a wide range of teaching and research resources, from a multidisciplinary perspective, in the field of emigration studies, within a Lebanese and comparative international perspective. The aim will be to encourage new research and to develop multidisciplinary courses within the framework of undergraduate programs, postgraduate programs (including the development of a special postgraduate degree in emigration studies) and summer schools, with a view to attracting a broad range of students of all levels, particularly from the emigration communities.  

The Center will address current social, political and cultural issues relevant to Lebanese migrants and will build closer links between Lebanese communities world-wide, for whom it is hoped the Center will become an important resource, and will offer a focus to people within the Lebanese emigration by means of a varied program of events.

 The Center will develop a collaborative Internet database using the technology of the World Wide Web, featuring material (legal, literary, social, historical, geographical, demographic and political) dealing with all aspects of the Lebanese Diaspora.

STRUCTURE AND PERSONNEL

The Center is inter-disciplinary in nature and aims to approach the subject of emigration from a range of social sciences, humanities and cultural perspectives. Therefore, the Center draws from, and counts on, the professional staff of the following NDU departments: 

  • Department of Architecture
  • Department of Arts and Music
  • Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics
  • Department of English, Translation and Education
  • Department of Mass Communication
  • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Faculty of Political Science, Public Administration and Diplomacy

The Center is operated by a team consisting of Dr. Ameen A. Rihani, Vice-President for Sponsored Research and Development; Ms. Guita G. Hourani, researcher and Ms. Fadia El Hajje, the Center's Executive Assistant, students assistance, with the cooperation of overseas associated researchers and institutions.

LERC'S ADVISORY BOARD 

The Center has a small core staff. In order to pursue a broad range of tasks and projects, the Center cooperates with and assembles teams of locally-based academics on a project-by-project basis, working with postgraduate and visiting students from a variety of universities, building partnerships with statutory organizations and working with international partners in Europe, North America, South America, Australia and Africa and elsewhere.

The Centre's Advisory Board consists of professionals in multidisciplinary fields from reputable academic and research institutions around the world. The following distinguished professionals have accepted to serve as members of the Center's Advisory Board for three years. 

  • Dr. Engin Akarli, Professor, History Department, Brown University, USA.
  • Dr. Trevor Batrouney, Adjunct Professor, Emigration, RMIT, Australia.
  • Dr. John Entelis, Professor and Director of the Middle East Studies Program, Fordham University, New York, USA.
  • Dr. Michael Humphrey, Head, School of Sociology, University of New South Wales, Australia.
  • Dr. Akram Khater, Professor, History, North Carolina State University, N.C., USA.
  • Dr. Nadim Shehadi, Director, Center for Lebanese Studies, Oxford University, London, UK.
  • Dr. Michael Suleiman, Professor, Political Sciences, Kansas State University, Kansas, USA.

 

THE CENTER'S INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS  

The Center benefits from memoranda of agreement signed between Notre Dame University and the following universities:  

  • Central Connecticut State University, Connecticut, USA
  • Madonna University, Michigan, USA
  • University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
  • University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

 

 THE CENTER'S ASSOCIATED RESEARCHERS

 The Center's Associated Researcher is currently: 

  • Dr. Paul Tabar, Senior Researcher, The Institute for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia. The Center also welcomes applications from those wishing to be associated with it as researchers or as MA or PhD students who are writing their thesis or dissertations on subjects related to Lebanese emigration. For further details please contact the Center at lerc@ndu.edu.lb or the International Affairs Office at the following E-Mail address: eaalam@ndu.edu.lb 

LOCATION 

The Center is located in Notre Dame University, Lebanon, which was founded in 1987. The University now functions with branches in Barsa, North Lebanon, and Deir El -Kamar, Shouf. The total current number of students is 4200.

Zouk Mosbeh is located in the Kessrawan district of Lebanon and is situated about 300 meters above sea level, close to the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. This former village is becoming a city due to the university's impact. The university is strategically located near several important archival centers. It is 18 kms from the National Museum in Beirut and Saint Joseph University, 20 kms from The American University of Beirut, and 8 kms from the Patriarchal Archive in Bkerke, and similar distances from other important libraries and institutions.

The Center is housed in the right wing of the Administration building at NDU. Facilities consist of a resource center housing books, journals and Internet access, digitization facilities and website and office space for the director, researchers, staff, postgraduate students and interns.

The Center makes use of certain major resources, notably in the area of existing archival materials,  library holdings and technical services, already available at NDU and its associates.

 While the main part of the LERC's physical location is expected to be at NDU, its global role is to be stressed from the outset. This will be achieved by (a) the continued development of joint collaborative activities with other institutions and interested bodies and (b) the use of Internet technology to bring the data and resources of the Center to a worldwide audience. 

CURRENT PROJECTS

 a)      Roster of University Professors of Lebanese Ancestry in Universities Abroad:

The Center is undertaking a major project, namely compiling a roster of university professors of Lebanese lineage. The purpose of this compilation is: a) to identify these professors and their fields of study; b) to invite them to participate in related conferences and research projects; c) to invite them to lecture at NDU and share their academic and professional experience with our students and professors; and d) to obtain their relevant research and publication for the NDU library. The information will be published in series as it becomes available.

 b)      The Lebanese of Australia and New Zealand

The Center has engaged Dr. Paul Tabar, Senior Researcher, The Institute for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia to write an annotated bibliography on Lebanese emigration to Australia and New Zealand.

 c)       Building up a Database on Organizations, Associations, Clubs, etc.  of the Lebanese Emigration

The Center is undertaking the building of a database of all existing and functioning organizations, associations, clubs and the like of the Lebanese emigration around the world.

 d)      Building up an Emigration Resource Library.

The LERC is in the process of developing an emigration resource library which will include documents, archival material, books, articles, audio and video tapes, electronic material, photos, artifacts and the like on the Lebanese emigration. 

FACILITATIES

Researchers and students who wish to be associated with the Center and visit Lebanon to conduct research related to the Lebanese emigration should write to the Center.

 The Associated Researchers, students and the Advisory Board will have the following facilities upon their visit to Lebanon:

  • free housing facility for two to three weeks at a time.
  • support for representing LERC in special assignments, conferences, etc.
  • access to archives related to Lebanese heritage and emigration.
  • access to peers and personalities.
  • a platform for lecturing and for participating in conferences, panels and discussion groups.
  • access to library facilities.
  • access to Internet & e-mail and other related facilities.
  • tours to places of interest in Lebanon in relation to history, heritage, culture, and emigration.

 

CONTACTS:

Ameen A. Rihani, Ph.D.
Vice President
Sponsored Research and Development
Notre Dame University
P.O.Box 72, Zouk Mosbeh
Kesrawan, Lebanon
Tel. and Fax: +961-9-224803
Tel. +961-9-218950
Fax +961-9-218771
E-mail: aarihani@ndu.edu.lb
 
Guita G. Hourani, M.A., M.U.R.P.
Researcher
Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC)
Notre Dame University (NDU)
P.O.Box 72, Zouk Mosbeh
Kesrawan, Lebanon
Tel. and Fax: +961-9-224803
Tel. +961-9-218950
Fax +961-9-218771
E-mail: ghourani@ndu.edu.lb
 
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