(Re) positioning Lebanese feminist discourse: a rhetorical study of Al-raida (Pioneer) journal, 1976-1985
This study is a feminist historiography of Al-Raida, a Lebanese feminist journal introduced in 1976 by the Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University. This study recovers foundations of modern Lebanese feminist discourses as they are articulated in the journal by employing Foucauldian CDA as a means to trace discourse strands, or conversations, which include Family Planning, development, politics and narratives of the Lebanese civil war. This study explores, by situating each discourse strand within dominant and local historical contexts, the shifting rhetorical function of the journal through various historical moments. Tracing the dominant discourse strands within the first decade of the journal, this study rhetorically analyzes the ways in which arguments are positioned, research studies are presented, and methodologies are employed to forge viable solutions to Middle Eastern women's issues. First, the study traces the conversation on Family Planning in Lebanon and its relevance to the economic and social situation during the late 70s. Second, the study presents the shift in the early 80s towards a discourse on development and explores how Al-Raida presents the issue of development, attempts to define it, and in doing so outlines some of the concerns at this time, including illiteracy, access to health care, access to paid employment, and women's access to developmental opportunities. Third, the study presents the discourse in the mid-80s on the civil war in Lebanon and highlights Al-Raida's rhetorical function by documenting trauma and war narratives through personal interviews, testimonies, and ethnographies. The shift in the methodologies of the research articles published in the first decade, from quantitative studies towards qualitative studies, indicates the journal is rhetorically situated within both the dominant international discourse and within the local context, exhibiting an ability to respond to the nuances in the local Lebanese women's movement while simultaneously maintaining international visibility.