Collective Narratives of the Kfarsghabi Diasporic Community: An Important Tool to Reinstate Group Solidarity, Ethnic Identity and Societal Acceptance
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Keywords:Diaspora, Ethnic Identity, Lebanon, Media, Narratives, Collective narratives
This paper explores the significance of collective narratives for a particular diasporic community. The analysis demonstrates that addressing narratives is important not only to ensure understanding between old and new members, but also to expand societal acceptance and provide adequate formal assistance to sub-ethnic communities. The Kfarsghab community, whose members identify with a Maronite village in the Wadi Qadisha (Holy Valley) in Lebanon, is a suitable case study, especially due to the high commitment of certain members who disseminate information and stories. I analyzed digital platforms, searched in archives, and conducted qualitative interviews with community members in five countries. Using a qualitative content analysis, I inductively generated categories to examine why certain members are particularly dedicated to (re)producing collective narratives as well as to understand the core themes and morals of stories. The analysis illustrates why members act as community librarians, storytellers, external messengers, and social reporters to share myth and legends that have different effects: Narratives about group solidarity convey implicit imperatives that secure the existence and transformation of a community. The normative messages enable a mutual understanding and foster everyday support among long-term and potential new members. Stories that highlight the ethnic identity ensure differentiation from other sub-ethnic groups and strengthen the cohesion among members with hybrid identities. Hereby, members preserve the remembrance of a common origin as a central identity element even if the actual descent is not decisive for membership. Other narratives emphasize societal inclusion by portraying successful members as role models. Overall, collective narratives prevent the disintegration of diasporic communities with the potential to counter negative stereotypes attributed to ethnic groups perceived as an entity. Diasporic communities should be acknowledged as a stabilizing element of societies, as they promote social recognition of members and function as a counterbalance to experienced racial discrimination.
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