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Nadya Sbaiti


Arab Studies Journal Call for Papers: "Wayn al-Dawleh?" In Search of the Lebanese State

One of the most common expressions of popular rhetoric in Lebanon is the question, “Wayn al-dawleh?” Where is the state? The idea that the Lebanese state does not exist imbues the daily perceptions and attitudes of Lebanese of all backgrounds in the wake of failing public services, institutional deadlock, civil strife, and political stalemate. Even incumbent politicians have blamed the state’s “nonexistence” on the inability to provide goods and services, along with ...

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“Beirut Photographer”: An Ode to Memory

[A boy in Martyrs Square, Beirut at the end of the wars, sells photos of the square as it appeared before the wars. Photo by George Azar.]

What does it mean to bear witness to events? What responsibility does the act of witnessing carry? These are the central questions evoked by George Azar and Mariam Shahin’s documentary film “Beirut Photographer.” Released on Al Jazeera English in part to remember the thirtieth anniversary of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon–and more particularly of Beirut–the film is a multi-layered and fascinating portrayal of the often contradictory aspects of battles that would become ...

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What's in a City? (Part 2)

[Get your tour on. Source unknown]

(see Part 1) Last summer, a friend (under some coercion… not from me) gave me a valuable gift – a 1954 Guide to World Travel issued by Pan Am airlines. In the section on Lebanon, it listed the average temperature in August as 83º Fahrenheit (~28º C). August, by far the hottest and most humid month, only 83 degrees? I mean, if you needed any further proof that the world is heating up, consider that the average temperature in Beirut this past summer was well about ...

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What's in a City? (Part 1)

Map of the city of Beirut

One night a few months ago, while spending some time in Beirut, I needed to get from the Sinn al-Fil neighborhood to that of Ras Beirut, and called a taxi to pick me up. After driving around for twenty minutes, it became clear that the cab driver had no idea how to get us out of the urban planning nightmare that is Sinn al-Fil. So we flagged down a family in a silver SUV to ask directions. “Brother, how do I get to Beirut?” the taxi driver asked. SUV driver stared at ...

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Nadya Sbaiti


Nadya Sbaiti is Assistant Professor of History at Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges.  She is co-editor of the Arab Studies Journal, and a co-founder of