CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

As we finish writing this article in May 2022, Lebanon is undergoing general parliamentary elections. For the second time in history, Lebanese citizens living outside its territory are allowed to vote. A worldwide campaign led by different governmental as well as civil society organizations has resulted in a threefold increase in diaspora voter registration in comparison with the previous elections. Whereas in 2018 just under 80,000 persons had registered to vote, in 2022 this number climbed to a little over 225,000, or 6% of the total electorate (Dagher, 2022). The Lebanese diaspora has been formed by different migratory waves starting from the late 19th century, spreading throughout the world. For South America alone, rough estimates evaluate people of Lebanese descent at around 4 million in Brazil (more than in Lebanon itself), and 1 million in Argentina (Hage, 2021). Only a minority of these have retained or reobtained Lebanese citizenship. Despite the South American diaspora being one of the largest demographically, it had the lowest number of registered voters for both elections (as well as the lowest growth in participation between elections: 4,183 individuals in 2018 and 5,587 in 2022). The Lebanese diaspora in Argentina did not manage to achieve the threshold of a minimum of 200 registered voters to administer an overseas voting station in 2022. Although we are not concerned here with a decrease in participation, this event presents us with the opportunity to examine the process of acquisition of extra-territorial citizenship among the descendants (of the second and third generation) of Lebanese immigrants to Argentina…


‪The sedentariness of the nation-state (emerging from its territoriality) sets it at odds with human mobility of different types and scales, but particularly so with international migration. In this article we are concerned with the different strategies states deploy for the construction of nationhood and citizenry when faced with immigration and emigration. We focus on heritage and horizon to think citizenship practices as they relate to Levantine immigrants in Argentina, their descendants, and the relationships established with modern-day Lebanon. We are particularly interested in the moment of transformation from foreigner to national and from non-citizen to citizen. We further point to the misalignment between the ways in which different Lebanese institutions promote extra-territorial citizenship, and the motives latent citizens express for pursuing it. We show that the acquisition of Lebanese extra-territorial citizenship is not based on pragmatic motives but is the result of a re-ethnicization attempt and that there are inverted configurations of heritage and horizon in Argentine and Lebanese citizenship and nationality practices.‪

  • Argentina
  • diaspora
  • Lebanon
  • nationality
  • extra-territorial citizenship
Lorenzo Cañás Bottos
Professor of Social Anthropology Department of Social Anthropology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Dragvoll, NO-7491 Trondheim, Norway;; canas.bottos[at]
Tanja Plasil
Qualitative Researcher, Centre for Obesity Research and Innovation (ObeCe), St. Olav’s Hospital, Trondheim, Norway;; tanja.plasil[at]
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