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date: 29 June 2022

Hizbollah in the Global Arenalocked

Hizbollah in the Global Arenalocked

  • Shirin SaeidiShirin SaeidiPolitical Science, University of Arkansas

Summary

A comprehensive review of the scholarly literature on the transnational movement of Hizbollah (Party of God) in the global arena examines the sociopolitical history, military capacities, strategies, and alliances of the Hizbollah movement. Situated in a narrow understanding of global politics and international relations such an examination reveals that Hizbollah poses a particular problem for international relations when the hegemonic nation-state remains the primary site of analysis. The literature on Hizbollah consistently fails to acknowledge the limitations of this worldview, and as such, continues to characterize Hizbollah as a disruptive Iranian-led militia instead of a transnational social movement rooted firmly in its followers’ self-confidence and commitment to an ideology with religious elements. As a transnational movement, Hizbollah has all but abandoned the realization of an Islamic state, holds limited military power, and is influenced by international norms and socialization. As such, the most interesting aspect of Hizbollah’s political trajectory is its imaginative politics—forms of expression rooted in its transnational attributes, developed in historical contexts, and acted upon by individual supporters of the movement through social relationships. A narrow view of the global arena as organized states in a hierarchy expands explorations of the Hizbollah movement into areas and subfields such as a Middle East studies and gender studies. These subfields have contributed valuable ethnographic research that informs a new methodological approach and resulting arguments. From this framework, based on a spatially cognizant recognition of a global Middle East, the analysis shows that Hizbollah’s various transnational attributes—including a commitment to ideological production, becoming a martyr, and following the spiritual leadership of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—become “transitioning spaces” (as used by diaspora studies scholar Dora Silva Santana) forged in kinship that make it possible to imagine other worlds. The spiritual and sensual world that Hizbollah supporters conjure competes with the international system of political organization to make the movement noteworthy to the global arena. Importantly, this is not an alternative world, but one that coexists to challenge a focus on military, alliance, or material approaches alone.

Subjects

  • International Relations Theory
  • Political Sociology
  • Security Studies

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