A passage to Lebanon: the encapsulation of Lebanese cultural identity in Utica, New York


Paul Charbel

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This work contextually illustrates how Lebanese immigrants established and maintained a Lebanese community in Utica, NY through the encapsulation and perpetuation of cultural practices. This will be accomplished by combining perspectives from both within the community and from the city of Utica itself. The vast majority of the Lebanese in Utica, unlike other major enclaves in the U.S., came from very small, very specific areas of Lebanon, including an array of cosmopolitan towns and rural hamlets. Knowing this, we have the unique opportunity to explore how a very specific group of immigrants, transplanted into a new country, were able to sustain a community and preserve their unique cultural practices. This work characterizes the planting of a particular community's seed in foreign soil and to better understand the type of fruit it would bear. While jobs and opportunities were once the allure, what allowed the Lebanese community in Utica to maintain itself even after those opportunities would dry up? I will answer this question by exploring how the community constructed an image of Lebanese identity and perpetuated itself through the encapsulation of certain religious and cultural practices.