Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Roderic Camp


Sectarianism has shaped Lebanese culture since the establishment of the National Pact in 1943, and continues to be a pervasive roadblock to Lebanon’s path to development. This thesis explores the role of religion, politics, and Lebanon’s illegitimate government institutions in accentuating identity-based divisions, and fostering an environment for sectarianism to emerge. In order to do this, I begin by providing an analysis of Lebanon’s history and the rise and fall of major religious confessions as a means to explore the relationship between power-sharing arrangements and sectarianism, and to portray that sectarian identities are subject to change based on shifting power dynamics and political reforms. Next, I present different contexts in which sectarianism has amplified the country’s underdevelopment and fostered an environment for political instability, foreign and domestic intervention, lack of government accountability, and clientelism, among other factors, to occur. A case study into Iraq is then utilized to showcase the implications of implementing a Lebanese-style power-sharing arrangement elsewhere, and further evaluate its impact in constructing sectarian identities. Finally, I conclude that it is possible to eliminate sectarianism in Lebanon and move towards a secular state. While there are still many challenges to face in overcoming a long-established system of governance, I highlight the anti-sectarian partisan movements that are advocating for change, and their optimistic path to success.