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Lebanon

War is Here: The Lebanese Political Elites Unite Again

[Syrian Refugees Wait in Line to Register with UNHCR in Arsal, 2013. Image by UNHCR]

War is often understood as a temporally bounded event. A war begins, and eventually it ends. In the process, people are killed, maimed, starved, and traumatized; infrastructure is damaged; and life-worlds are destroyed. In such context, survival, not life, becomes the goal. Yet such an understanding of war is often duplicitous. For example, one might look to the Gaza Strip, where slow death under a globally-sanctioned siege under the temporality of a “ceasefire” is easily as violent, as final, as the next “war” with Israel.  In Lebanon whispers of the war to come have intensified in ways that go beyond the constant anticipation of violence that characterized the ...

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Des déchets aux remblais: imaginaire aménageur, corruption et dérèglements métaboliques à Beyrouth

[La décharge de Borj Hammoud vue du port de pêche avant les récents travaux de démantèlement - Photo Eric Verdeil - CC-ND-NC]

Les scandales à répétition qui éclatent à propos de la gestion des déchets au Liban et plus particulièrement dans l'agglomération de Beyrouth mettent en évidence les montants énormes des contrats en question et leur opacité, et donc plus largement la corruption qui joue un rôle déterminant dans l'organisation de l'action publique. Les débats de l'été 2015 ont ainsi permis d'exposer publiquement les zones d'ombre, anomalies et irrégularités concernant les contrats successifs de Sukleen, et de pointer vers un ensemble de bénéficiaires indirects de cette rente. La réorganisation en principe provisoire de la gestion des déchets à Beyrouth et dans le Mont Liban s'est traduite ...

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New Texts Out Now: Hannes Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon's Neoliberal Reconstruction

Hannes Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon’s Neoliberal Reconstruction. Hurst: London, 2016. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Hannes Bauman (HB): On 14 February 2005 I was preparing my PhD proposal in the library of IFEAD, the French research institute in Damascus. During a break I noticed that people were huddling around a portable TV in the lobby, transmitting grainy images of a bomb explosion. It was the Beirut blast that killed former billionaire-prime minister Rafiq Hariri. A month later, on 14 March I witnessed the Beirut rally calling for a withdrawal of Syrian troops, which later gave its name to the “March 14” coalition led by Sa’d ...

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Lebanon's New Electoral Law: Proportional in Form, Majoritarian at Heart

The Lebanese government and parliament finally approved an electoral law on 16 June 2017, “averting” a political and constitutional crisis. Political parties have congratulated themselves for this “achievement,” despite being four years late and creating a dangerous precedent by illegally extending the parliamentary mandate three times since 2013. While the long-awaited electoral law contains elements of a proportional representation (PR) system, its soul is majoritarian and its districts are crafted according to a political and sectarian calculus. Furthermore, the law carries no reform provision such as a women’s quota, an independent electoral commission, or adequate ...

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Municipal Politics in Lebanon

The municipal system has been a key pillar of debates on administrative decentralization, economic development and political participation in Lebanon. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, activists sought to stop the demolition of the 1924 Barakat Building on the basis that it was a heritage site. In response to public pressure, the Municipality of Beirut expropriated the building in 2013, and has since overseen a contentious process of transforming the space into a memory museum. International donors have increasingly directed aid flows for Syrian refugees in Lebanon through municipalities instead of the central government. Concomitantly, many of these municipalities ...

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Along What Lines Are Lebanon’s Political Elite Divided?

Eight years on and Lebanon still does not have an electoral law. Despite the many draft proposals and meetings by the Council of Ministers (COM) and parliamentary sub-committees, political parties appear more likely to either hold elections according to the so-called 1960 law or illegally extend their mandates than pass a new electoral law. Granted, a new electoral law would determine who has the power to nominate a prime minister, form a new government, issue a vote of confidence and oversee government’s performance, and initiate or approve pieces of legislation. But, the failure of political elites to pass a new electoral law after more than eight years of talking ...

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Media on Media Roundup (April 25)

[Hezbollah flag in Baalbeck, Lebanon. Photo by yeowatzup, Wikimedia Commons]

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup tackles several important themes shaping the Middle East mediascape. A leaked video allegedly showing Egyptian soldiers killing detainees in the Sinai Peninsula caused a great deal of debate surrounding Egypt’s human rights record. In Lebanon, a Hezbollah-organized media tour of the country’s demarcation line with Israel generated controversy regarding Lebanon’s relationship to Israel and Hezbollah’s military power. Following a referendum extending President Erdogan’s ruling powers, the Turkish government detained the editor-in-chief of leftist website Sendika.org for denouncing  Erdogan’s win as illegitimate. The New ...

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Two Video Installations by Dictaphone Group (Houston, 18-23 April 2017)

This year's installment of Houston's CounterCurrent Festival will feature two video installations by the Lebanon-based Dictaphone Group, a research and performance collective that creates live art events based on multidisciplinary study of space. The two video installations on display in Houston tackle different aspects of displacement, refuge, and urban space, taking on the experience of individual Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Both installations are showing every from 12pm to 8pm, 18-23 April 2017. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Below are brief descriptions of each instllation, including location and a URL for additional information as ...

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جلد وحبر: مقابلة لمجلة الوضع مع طه سمور

أجرى محمد علي نايل لمجلة "الوضع" هذا الحوار مع طه سمور، متخصص بوشوم المدرسة القديمة والحديثة، وفن الخط الياباني والعربي. درس في الجامعة اللبنانية، كلية علم الاجتماع والدراسات الإنسانية. يعمل كفنان وشم منذ أيلول ٢٠١١ وأستاذ للغة والأدب الإنكليزي منذ ٢٠١٢. تركز المقابلة على استعادة الحروفية في فن صناعة الوش.

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Dark Beirut: The (In)Visibility of Electricity

[Electricity pole in Hamra. Photo by Abi Weaver, 2016]

As filmmakers and researchers working on electricity in Beirut, it is tempting to become too attached to the visible, namely electricity wires that drape the city like garlands, dangerously gaping down at pedestrians, changing their paths, forcing detours. The ubiquity of wires stretching like lianas from rooftops, or hanging heavily in overgrown bunches from leaning poles, inches from your head is difficult to avoid. The crowding of sky and street by intertwining cables, whose origins and destinations are difficult to trace, is one of the most distinctive features of the city’s urban landscape, and a very explicit metaphor of Lebanon’s chronic electricity crisis. The ...

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Remembering Husayn Muruwwah, the ‘Red Mujtahid’

[Husayn with his wife, Fatima, 1980. With thanks to Ghassan Nasser]

On 17 February 1987, during one of the bloodiest periods of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the prominent journalist, literary critic, intellectual, and activist Husayn Muruwwah (or Hussein Mroué[i]) was assassinated at his home in Ramlet al-Baida, West Beirut. Muruwwah left Lebanon at the age of fourteen to train at the Najaf hawza (seminary) in Iraq. He intended to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a respected religious scholar and cleric. Yet after a multifaceted intellectual journey that spanned several decades and multiple locations, Muruwwah went on to become a celebrated Marxist philosopher and senior member of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP); ...

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Growing Sustainability at Beirut Design Week 2016 (Video)

[Screenshot from video below]

Growing Sustainably is a documentary film made during Beirut Design Week 2016. It focuses on four initiatives that took place over the course of that year. Each project represents a certain aspect of sustainability. The Beirut Makers, a collective of over a dozen designers and makers, are featured as an example of economic sustainability for the Lebanese design industry. TheOtherDada, an architectural studio, represents the importance of environmental sustainability through their Beirut River 2.0 installation. The Alonsor project shows the value of design in cultural sustainability, where the aesthetics of African diaspora become a tool for engagement. ...

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Statement of Condemnation and Clarification by the Socialist Forum in Lebanon

[The following statement was issued by Socialist Forum on 16 July 2017 in response to its decision to cancel a demonstraiton it had organized in response to the recent actions taken by the Lebanese government (through the military) within the Syrian refugee communities of Arsal.] On Friday June 30th, 2017 at dawn, a faction of the Lebanese Army raided two Syrian refugee camps (Nawar and Qareiah) in the town of Arsal, in what was officially designated as a "preventive raid" in search of ...

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بيان المنتدى الاشتراكي رداً على هجمات ضد اللاجئين السوريين في منطقة عرسال

[أصدر المنتدى الاشتراكي هذا البيان في ١٣ تموز، ٢٠١٧، رداً على هجمات ضد اللاجئين السوريين في منطقة عرسال] فجر نهار الجمعة 30 حزيران 2017، قامت قوة من الجيش اللبناني بمداهمة مخيمي النور والقارية للاجئين السوريين في بلدة عرسال، ضمن ما اعتبره الجيش "عملية استباقيّة" ضد "إرهابيين" موجودين في المخيم. نتج من ذلك مقتل عدد من الأشخاص بينهم طفلة، وإصابة عدد من العسكريين بجروح بسبب تفجيرات انتحارية. وشٌنّت حملة اعتقالات طالت ما يزيد عن 350 شخصاً من اللاجئين السوريين، على أساس الاشتباه بانتمائهم ...

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Life in a Street: How Informal Mechanisms Govern Scarce Public Spaces in Nabaa, Beirut

The informal mechanisms of organization in everyday public life have been at the core of concerns of many researchers and practitioners (e.g., Rukmana and Hegel in Indonesia, Mehrotra in India, and Nagati in Egypt). While examining these processes in different contexts, the focus was typically on their interplay with "formal" regulations or in relation to the private built environment. Few highlighted the significance of these informal arrangements per se and their importance in governing ...

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Survivor: Life After Cluster Bomb

Survivor is a decade-long documentary photography project following the story of Mohammed, a young cluster bomb survivor. During the summer 2006 Israel-Hizbollah war in Lebanon he was riding as a passenger on his father's motorbike when it struck a cluster bomb. Over the past 10 years I have documented how Mohammed, like so many other survivors around the world, lives with the horrifying repercussions of cluster munitions. Mohammed was eleven years old when he lost both legs during the last week of the ...

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New Texts Out Now: Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon

Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Sami Hermez (SH): I wrote this book because I felt there was a story that needed to be told of how people in states of protracted conflict live their lives with the specter of war continually hovering in the background, akin to the sounds of Beirut traffic. The potentiality of a coming war during my research in Lebanon moved in ...

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New Texts Out Now: Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut

Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut. Stanford University Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Toufoul Abou-Hodeib (TAH): The book started with the idea of using extant homes as a material archive, which grew out of my experience as an architecture student and a practicing architect in Beirut in the 1990s and early 2000s. The frantic post-war reconstruction of Beirut in the 1990s was accompanied by a pace of deconstruction that literally ...

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The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea, 1840-1920

Carol Hakim, The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea, 1840–1920. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. [This review was orginally published in the Spring 2017 issue of the Arab Studies Journal. For more information on the issue, or to subscribe to ASJ, click here.] Against teleological accounts that locate the origins of national ideas in a distant past and trace their evolution along a linear path into the present, Carol Hakim’s Origins of the Lebanese National Idea cautiously ...

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Woman Healers - A STATUS/الوضع Interview with Rola Yasmine

In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Mohamad Ali Nayel speaks with Rola Yasmine about women’s health issues in Lebanon and the impact of patriarchy within the medical field.   Rola Yasmine is a feminist, nurse and researcher based in Beirut and working on sexuality and gender and their intersections. For 3 years in youth sexual and reproductive health research at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and co-published peer reviewed papers on youth sexuality. Rola has a Master of Science ...

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Media on Media Roundup (March 30)

This week’s Jadaliyya “Media on Media” roundup covers several important topics affecting the MENA mediascape. A terror attack in London prompted the British government to ask that its security services be granted access to encrypted applications like Whatsapp, thought to be essential for planning the assault. In other news, Forbes Middle East comments on a British and US-issued electronics ban that prohibits the use of laptops and tablets on board direct flights from several Middle Eastern ...

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دورنا في صناعة الظلام

[المقالة لربيع علم الدين ترجمها عن الإنجليزية إسامة إسبر] بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية مباشرة امتلأ حسابي على التويتر بالتعبيرات عن الصدمة والشكاوى. بدا كما لو أن العبارة المفضلة للجميع هي:"نحن أفضل من هذا”. لكنني اعتبرت هـذا الكلام خاطئاً، وفهمتُ منطقه الملتوي، والصدمة والأذى اللذين سيقودان أحداً ما كي يقول هذا، لكن هذا لم يكن صحيحاً. لسنا أفضل من هذا. نحن هذا. لقد انتُخبَ الرجل رئيساً. وبحكم طبيعة الحال إن أميركا هي هذا، نحن هذا. لا أقول كلامي هذا كي أوحي أننا يجب أن نُلام، أو أن أحداً ما ...

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Specters of Palestine: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

There are at least 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a number that represents a quarter of Lebanon’s total population. This is the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in the world. Syrians are not the only refugee population in Lebanon. When considered alongside Palestinian, Iraqi, Kurdish, and Sudanese refugees, the total refugee population easily represents a third of Lebanon’s current residents. Lebanon had no revolution, or sustained uprising, to contribute to the regional fervor that ...

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Call for Volunteers: LEAP Summer English Program with Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon (Deadline: 17 February 2017)

Apply Today Deadline: February 17, 2017  ABOUT LEAP  Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians (LEAP) is an educational empowerment program for Palestinian refugee-youth in Lebanon dedicated to nurturing the intellectual growth and creative curiosity of our students. LEAP encourages youth to become agents of change by supporting them in their educational pursuits during their most formative years. 
LEAP aims to illuminate ...

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