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The Everyday Experience of Humanitarianism in Akkar Villages (Part One)

[In this 30 May 2012 photo, a fifteen-year-old Syrian refugee boy rides a motorbike with his sister and his brother, who fled their home from the Syrian town of Tal-Kalakh. The photo was taken outside a school where they stay with their family and relatives temporarily, in Shadra village at the northern Lebanese-Syrian border town of Wadi Khalid, in Akkar, north Lebanon. Image by Hussein Malla via Associated Press.]

It is very common nowadays to come across reports discussing the negative impact of the Syrian humanitarian crisis on the Lebanese economy as a whole. On the one hand, there have been several attempts to focus on the victims and their plight, rather than looking at the complex dynamics of humanitarian intervention in the country. On the other, many organizations tend to disguise or justify their own political agenda in their impact assessment reports and fieldwork analyses,[1] which are mostly quantitative and have little focus on the qualitative impact of their projects. This article attempts to advance a grounded analysis of the social situation developed by the ...

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New Texts Out Now: Reinoud Leenders, Spoils of Truce: Corruption and State-Building in Postwar Lebanon

[Cover of Reinoud Leenders,

Reinoud Leenders, Spoils of Truce: Corruption and State-Building in Postwar Lebanon. Cornell: Cornell University Press, 2012. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Reinoud Leenders (RL): Since my first encounter with Lebanese politics and society in the mid-1990s, I have been fascinated with the nature and role of the state in this country. This was primarily because I became exposed to a lively array of contradictory narratives on the state when talking to ordinary Lebanese and living in and visiting the country for over a decade. On one and the same day, it was quite conceivable to listen to one politician on the radio slamming the financial drains imposed by ...

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A Guide to Lebanon’s Street Protests

[In this 31 May2013 file photo, a Lebanese protester throws tomatoes at a banner with the portraits of the 128 Lebanese lawmakers with Arabic that reads,

Thousands of Lebanese workers and activists have been pouring onto the streets over a litany of issues since parliament resumed work this month following a year-long hiatus. Most of the protests are related to the country’s startling income inequality and stark poverty levels. Even before the Syrian war triggered an influx of over a million mostly poor refugees into Lebanon, about twenty-eight percent of the country’s population of four million lived in poverty or extreme poverty, respectively earning a per capita average of less than four dollars to 2.40 dollars per day, according to UN figures. Parliament has addressed some demonstrators’ grievances with the adoption ...

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من قصة النقل المشترك لمدينة بيروت: باصاتٌ ومترو في محطة الأحلام

لم يبقَ من مصلحة سكك الحديد لا سكك حديدية ولا حتى الصدأ. كلُ ما تبقى هو ماضٍ نتحسر عليه بغرافيتي تملأ الجدران وبحلمٍ من الصعب ان يتحقق. فحتى أحفاد البيروتيين من الأرجح انهم لن يكحّلوا أعينهم برؤية "ترام" او باص عمومي محترم يتنقلون به في مدينتهم. وفيما تؤكد مختلف الأطراف المعنية ان الحل يتطلب قرارا موحدا وتنسيقاً فيما بينها، يبقى التنفيذُ رهناً بالقرار السياسي. كذلك، تبقى اي خطوة عملية تجلب الفائدة لسكان المدينة ومحيطها في عداد الموتى. كيف لا و250 "باصا" للقطاع العام - والتي لا تحل المشكلة من جذورها أصلا- تحتاج أكثر من عقدٍ كي تُشترى! ولكن ماذا اذا طالب سكان المدينة بإعادة ترام مدينتهم الذي جاب طرقاتها في الزمن الجميل؟ انه المشهد ذاته يتكرر مرة بعد ...

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On the Struggle of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

[Syrian children gather on the outskirts of one of the camps in Lebanon. Image by author]

Spring has just landed in Lebanon. Its warmth and colors soothing the dried winter skin of the vast majority of Syrian refugees who resisted icy temperatures and freezing to death underneath thin canvas tents. Lebanon is now home to approximately one million Syrians, displaced from their war-ravaged cities and towns in Syria. Amid unfettered exploitations, Syrian families, forced to seek refuge in Lebanon, have fought a hostile season in a hostile environment that they mistook as neighborly. During the reign of Alexa, a polar storm that hit Lebanon at the start of December 2013, while walking between a maze of tents in Arsal,  Amira grabbed my arm and said, “Sir, I ...

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في أعقاب زيارته لبيروت: اعتقال الصحافي مجد كيال واقتحام منزل عائلته

[مصدر الصورة

اعتقلت الشرطة الإسرائيلية مساء السبت الصحافي والناشط السياسي مجد كيال (حيفا) عند معبر "جسر الشيخ حسين" قرب بيسان، وهو في طريق عودته من بيروت إلى البلاد عبر الأردن. ووصل كيّال الحدود الأردنية - الإسرائيلية مساء السبت برفقة والدته، سهير، التي التقته في الأردن، بعد زيارته للعاصمة اللبنانية دامت نحو أسبوعين للمشاركة في إحتفالات صحيفة "السفير" باتمامها عقدها الرابع. وقال والد مجد، مبدا كيًال، في حديث لـ"عرب ٤٨" إن الشرطة الحدودية اعتقلت ابنه فور وصوله وأبلغت العائلة نيتها تمديد اعتقاله الأحد (الساعة ١٠ صباحاً) في المحكمة في حيفا. ويكتب مجد بشكل ثابت في ملحق "السفير العربي" منذ نحو عامين ويتناول الشأن الفلسطيني عموماً وقضايا ...

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Book Launch Event: Leisurely Islam (10 April, Harvard University)

[Cover of

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Program at Harvard University is pleased to present an author talk by Lara Deeb - Associate Professor of Anthropology, Scripps College and Mona Harb - Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Politics, American University of Beirut Moderated by Susan Kah, Associate Director and Director of the AM Program, CMES; Lecturer on Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, Harvard University About the Event: A limited number of free copies of Leisurely Islam will be available on a first come, first served basis to Harvard students attending this talk (please have your Harvard ID available). This is a brown bag ...

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O.I.L. Media Roundup (21 March)

[Protest against Israel's Gaza Blockade and attack on humanitarian flotilla - Melbourne 5 June 2010. Image by John Engvart via Wikimedia Commons.]

[This is a monthly archive of pieces written by Jadaliyya contributors and editors on the Occupations, Interventions,and Law (O.I.L.) Page. It also includes material published on other platforms that editors deemed pertinent to post as they provide diverse depictions of O.I.L.-related topics. The pieces reflect the level of critical analysis and diversity that Jadaliyya strives for, but the views are solely the ones of their authors. If you are interested in contributing to Jadaliyya, send us your post with your bio and a release form to [click "Submissions" on the main page for more information] Iraq Baghdad Motorbike Blast, Other Attacks ...

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Call for Applicants: AUB Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Public Policy and International Affairs in the Arab World

[Logo of the American University of Beirut. Image from]

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Announcement The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) American University of Beirut Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Public Policy and International Affairs in the Arab World IFI announces the availability of two post-doctoral fellowships in public policy and international affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB) for the a full academic year 2014-15, starting September 1, 2014 and ending May 30, 2014. IFI is specifically interested in applicants who conduct policy-based research related to one or more of the three current themes of interest at the Institute: Refugee Crises in the Middle East IFI ...

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Conference--AUB City Debates 2014: Of Property in Planning (Beirut, 7-8 March)

City Debates is a yearly conference organized by the Masters in Urban Planning & Policy and Masters in Urban Design Programs at the American University of Beirut. Started in 2002, City Debates brings together professionals, academics, and students from Beirut and beyond to explore issues of contemporary relevance to the urbanization of the region. The series aims to document, analyze, and compare emerging practices that are transforming the cities and regions of the Middle-East. It also aims to foster a platform of exchange at the regional level where investigative frameworks are proposed and practical experiences and know-how are shared. By carefully selecting each ...

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Stop the Highway, Build the Fouad Boutros Park

[The Highway Cutting through Hekmeh Neighborhood. Photo Courtesy Civil Coalition against the HIghway Project.]

In Lebanon, highway projects cutting through urban neighborhoods and displacing people, in the name of urban modernity, economic development and improving traffic are not new. They are often implementing old designs elaborated in the 1960s by planners who conceived the city prioritizing vehicular movement. More than half a decade later, Lebanese planning agencies do not reconsider those grand plans, despite contemporary urban planning policy trends that advocate addressing  transportation problems via soft mobility schemes and public transportation projects. In the middle of Achrafieh, a section of Beirut known for its rich urban heritage and architectural ...

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How to Do Things with Hair

[Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh

How to Do Things with Hair Curated by Barrak Alzaid  thejamjar, Dubai, UAE 26 October—2 December, 2013   Curator Barrak Alzaid has been critically grappling with hair—men’s body hair, to be more precise—for years now. “I find men’s body hair compelling, and as I did studio visits over the last four years, I began to log the variety of ways in which men’s body hair, or accessories of men’s body hair, were deployed.” Alzaid recently translated this ongoing professional and personal engagement into an exhibition hosted by Dubai creative space thejamjar. He presented works by six artists that creatively confront some of the ways in which “hair” has been ...

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Inhabiting a Grudge

My father and I were discussing increasing construction and diminishing public space in Beirut and, in particular, access to the seafront in the Manara neighbourhood. Suddenly, he asked if I had ever noticed al-Ba'sa (in English: The Grudge). “Which grudge?” I answered. “I thought we were speaking about buildings.” The "Grudge,” he tells me, “is a house—or maybe a wall—built to block the sea view of some residents. It is a building located in Beirut’s Manara area, just by the old lighthouse. It was ...

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On Power Cuts, Protests, and Institutions: A Brief History of Electricity in Beirut (Part One)

[What follows are some preliminary findings on the history of the electricity sector of Lebanon in general and that of Beirut in particular. Such research forms part of a broader project on the history of struggles over the political economy of Lebanon, within which the issue of electric public utilities was and continues to be central. In this first installment of a three-part series, the origins of the electricity sector will be laid out, as well as the popular and elite mobilizations that sector ...

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Let Us Now Praise Murderous Men; Lebanese Presidential Candidates, Considered

Lebanon is slated to hold presidential elections next week, despite the fact that the parliamentary elections have yet to be held and it is the Lebanese parliament that elects the Lebanese President. Last year elections were postponed for the first time in the state’s history, and parliament illegitimately extended its own term in the absence of elections. This further throws into doubt the legitimacy of the looming presidential contest. Thus far, several potential presidential candidates ...

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Stasis Shift: Guernica Interviews Jadaliyya Co-Founder Bassam Haddad

Jadaliyya co-founder on telling alternative stories about the Arab world, understanding the life cycles of revolution, and confronting “the weight of ancient problems.”   In the fall of 2010, I was crossing a crowded hotel lobby at the Middle East Studies Association convention in San Diego when a friend introduced me to the writer, editor, and scholar Bassam Haddad. “Bassam is starting a website,” she said. “You should know each other.” He slipped me a business card with the word Jadaliyya ...

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بيروت.. أول مرّة

كل شارع في بيروت يمكنك أن تصعد أو تنزل به. يتعلق ذلك بالجهة التي تأتي منها إليه. الشوارع المركزيّة، مثل الحمراء والجمّيزة، تكون مستوية. ومنها تتفرّع المنحدرات صعودًا ونزولاً. أغلبية شوارع بيروت الساحقة، هي طلعات ونزلات في الوقت نفسه. بيروت كلها، سفح شرس وعنيف صعوده منهك ومتعب. وفي الوقت ذاته بيروت كلها منحدر سهل نتدحرج عليه بفرح نحو كورنيش البحر. بيروت هي كل شيء وعكسه في اللحظة ذاتها، لذا لا يمكنك الحديث عن مدينة واحدة، فذلك يرتبط أساسا بالزاوية التي ترى منها. يمكنك مثلاً أن تراها كفلسطيني من الداخل، ...

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Reconfiguring Relief Mechanisms: The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon

The Issam Faris Institute (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) has released a report, authored by Rabih Shibli, the associate director for Development and Community Projects at AUB’s Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service. The report investigates the impacts of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, and advocates the reform of current relief mechanisms along more decentralized mechanisms.  The report suggests establishing a new governance system at the level of the eight ...

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Hello, Zimo

Hello, Zimo November 2013 Beirut, Lebanon   Samer Saem Eldahr (aka Zimo) is a musician and visual artist from Aleppo, Syria. Five years ago, he began working on a project that has now become a hit in the Arab underground music scene: Hello Psychaleppo. The two albums that he released so far mix classical Arabic songs with electronic beats, and showcase the collaborative work of artists and designers from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Spain. In this video interview, Zimo discusses how the group ...

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Bourj Hammoud: Seeing the City’s Urban Textures and Layered Pasts

Bourj Hammoud, a municipality just east of the Beirut River, is a densely populated residential and commercial district known as much for its sizeable Armenian population as its jewelry markets, small-scale clothing, and shoe manufacturing workshops. Until refugees of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman lands urbanized it in the 1930s, it had mainly consisted of agricultural fields. Armenian refugees, who had been living in various camps in and around Beirut, organized themselves into village and town ...

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Ghaniyeh bil miyah (Riche en eau): Un film sur la réforme de l’eau au Liban

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Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: Health, Access, and Contributions

[The following infographics were originally published by Visualizing Palestine.]   [Click image to enlarge.] [Click image to enlarge.] [Click image to enlarge.] [Click image to enlarge.]

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The AUB Noise and Silence Research Group: صوت وصمت

Car horns, screeching tires, motorists’ blaring music, motorcycle accelerations, sirens—official and unofficial, construction jack hammers, grinding electricity generators: all these create a deafening din of background noise in Beirut. Noise is an important issue affecting the quality of life. Research in other parts of the world has demonstrated the link between noise and damage to hearing, and problems with concentration, memory, stress, sleep, cardiovascular health, and immunity to disease (Stansfeld ...

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Dawawine: A Space for the Arts of Stage, Sound, and Image

Dawawine November 2013 Beirut, Lebanon   Dawawine is a reading and events space that theater specialist and publisher Sara Sehnaoui set up with musician Abed Kobeissi and filmmaker and artist Rami El Sabbagh in the summer of 2013. Their goal has been to make available specialized books in contemporary theater, dance, music, sound art, film, and video art to students, artists, researchers, and the general public. The bookstore attempts to introduce publications that are often unavailable in ...

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