What It Means to (Mis)Trust: Forced Migration, Ontological (In)Security, and the Unrecognized Political Psychology of the Israeli-Lebanese Conflict

Orit Gazit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

What does it mean to search for trust—the constitutive element of feeling ontologically secure—in the context of protracted conflict, trauma, and forced migration? This article addresses this key question in ontological security (OS) studies in International Relations (IR) by analyzing an unrecognized consequence of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict: a Lebanese community of forced migrants created overnight on Israeli premises due to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000. Relying on 60 in-depth interviews with Lebanese migrants in Israel, the article demonstrates how forced migrants engage in various OS-seeking strategies in relentless efforts to reconstitute trust. These strategies range from self-justification and securitizing identity through religious and communal practices, to a search for recognition from statist institutions and boundary-work vis-à-vis “sibling” disempowered “others” in the host state. However, the article shows how under political circumstances of protracted conflict and repeated perceived betrayal by the state, forced migrants are unable to reconstitute the routinized relations of trust on which OS is based. By exposing the particularistic, dynamic, and highly political character of the migrants' quest for trust, the article sheds new light on the political psychology of an “old” conflict and on the multiple meanings of ontological (in)security in migration.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)389-406
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume42
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Society of Political Psychology

Keywords

  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • conflict
  • forced migration
  • mistrust
  • ontological security
  • trauma

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