CONSTRUCTION JIHAD: STATE-BUILDING AND DEVELOPMENT IN IRAN AND LEBANON’S SHIʿI TERRITORIES.
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Construction Jihad: state-building and development in Iran and Lebanon’s Shiʿi Territories.

 

Based on fieldwork in Iran and Lebanon, this article compares the Iranian reconstruction and development organisation Construction Jihad with its Hizbullah-affiliated subsidiary in Lebanon. Beyond shedding light on Iranian and Lebanese history and politics, this comparison offers insight into the transnational diffusion of a development organisation by a state actor to its non-state or quasi-state ‘client’ in the Muslim and developing world. Despite the distinct environmental and operational conditions of Iran and Lebanon, Construction Jihad similarly assisted a nascent Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and a fledgling Hizbullah with state-building. The latter consisted of consolidating coercive power against domestic and foreign opponents, increasing administrative capacity through service provision and post-war reconstruction, and strengthening the political and religious identity of citizens and constituents. Regardless of the differing contexts of Iran and Lebanon, Construction Jihad counter-intuitively possessed a similar organisational and developmental model in both countries that did not neatly conform to the dichotomous typologies in development studies. This seemingly contradictory model was largely faith based, exclusive, distributive and top down with certain decentralised, community driven and participatory elements.

Keywords: Construction Jihad, development, Hizbullah, Iran, reconstruction, state-building

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