Concept Note

Civilizations in Transition

Conquering Societies and Composite Societies throughout History:

The example of Lebanon.


Symposium proposed by:

The International Centre for Human Sciences, Byblos

Jean-Michel Mouton, director of studies at the EcolePratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Jacques Paviot, Professor of Medieval History at the Paris-Est University



Since ancient times, some areas were contact zones, where there has been a dialogue among civilizations, religions, cultures and which have been growing humanist values, democracy vectors and principles of public life.Lebanon is one of those areas. The International Centre for Human Sciences in Byblos is an institution totally designated to host an international symposium to study these themes throughout history and, as an exemplary case, the own history of Lebanon.

In fact, Lebanon has continued to welcome and integrate on its soil peoples from all horizons (Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks and French). Most often, these new conquerors imposed themselves by force and their political domination of the Lebanese space has been accompanied by the establishment of a new social order and sometimes of a new culture. Lebanon today, crucible of civilizations and religions, is the fruit of this story enrolling in the long term and the city of Jbeil, the ancient Byblos and Giblet of Crusaders, offers exceptional testimony to a heritage of diverse influences.

The primary objective of the conference that we propose is to understand how these new peoples, embodying civilizations with different religions and cultures, were first perceived by the populations in place, then they were accepted or rejected by these ancestral societies established on the Lebanese soil, how they tried or succeeded in imposing their model of civilization and finally what are the humanistic values to which they gave birth.



To understand these phenomena,we should analyze the forms of exchange and dialogue at various levels and in various fields. The approach can be based on the following themes:

  • Dialogue in the forms (artistic, technical(
  • Dialogue between cultures (languages, cultures(
  • The dialogue between religions (forms of syncretism)
  • The dialogue between the institutions (political)

The main purpose of this event is to identify the factors that led to a slow integration of customs and traditions of the conquering society by the conquered societies ever since the violent phase of taking control of power and land occupancy till the cohabitation or the fusion of these two societies.The transition from a violent phase and a rupture where two civilizations or cultures confront towards a soother phase where there is cohabitation between conqueror and conquered constitutes the heart of the problem nowadays. This process that results in the formation of a new peaceful and integrated society will be highlighted.Its understanding is indeed essential for societies of the contemporary world: it will be analyzed by a historical, anthropological, sociological, and linguistic approach across a country, that is Lebanon, and under multifaceted aspects trying to identify the phases and the constants leading to a peaceful society.

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