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Questioning Social Inequality and Difference in the Arab Region
Selected Presentations from ACSS Conference
Sandy Tolan on Music under Occupation
Interviewed by Malihe Razazan


LCPS Interviews Jadaliyya Co-Editor Ziad Abu-Rish on Electricity in Early Independence Lebanon

[Newspaper headline from 1946 reporting the strike of tramway workers and the government's response. At the time, the Beirut Electricity Company was also the owner and operator of the city's tramway system. Headline from al-Bayraq newspaper. Image by Ziad Abu-Rish]

In the following interview with the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), Jadaliyya Co-Editor Ziad Abu-Rish discusses the history of electricty in Beirut during the early independence period, and some of the legacies and insights of the period. The interview was conducted over email, and first published on the LCPS website. It follows up on an earlier interview on the history of state instutituions in the early independence period. Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS): The electricity sector in Lebanon, as both a public utility and as an employer, has garnered quite a bit of attention in recent years. Much of what is ...

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The Arab Center for Architecture (ACA): Interview with George Arbid

The Arab Center for Architecture (ACA) was established in 2008 to raise awareness about contemporary architecture and urbanism within civil society. In an interview I held on 25 June 2015 at the offices of the ACA in Beirut, George Arbid, the co-founder and current director of the ACA, discussed the work of the ACA and modern architecture in the region. Arbid explained the activities and aims of the ACA, including the establishment of an archive, a library, educational programs and the formation of the DoCoMoMo Lebanon chapter. He outlined the important contributions of Arab architects to modernist architecture and the complexities of talking about “Arab architecture,” ...

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قصائد: عبير خليفة

[عمل بعنوان

              بلا تبعات حوافُ الحزن لا تُرى والفرح مُسْكرٌ فلا أميّزُ بين مهرّجٍ ومُبتسم. إنّها لسنواتٍ سبعٍ عجاف القحطُ لم يتكرّر ولم أبكِ خلالها كمَطر. التطاولُ عليكَ مباح لأنّكَ في البارحة تكملُ ما تفعلُه تقول: أحبكِ ثمّ تموت بينما يكفي أنْ تتراجعَ خطوةً بعد كلّ قبلة و يكفي أنْ تقول: بلا تبعات ثمّ نكملُ القهوةَ التي بردتْ ونُفسِحُ للحبِّ مساحةً لهدْأته. Keep Reading »

The Mayor of the One Percent

[Beirut Municipality, by Elie Plus via Wikimedia Commons]

Recently, Dr. Bilal Hamad, the head of the Municipality of Beirut, or mayor, made statements defending his record. His comments revealed a profound sense of frustration at the mayor’s subordinate position to that of the mohafez, or governor, who can veto and delay the municipality’s initiatives.  Having heard this explanation for the deplorable performance of the city’s municipality for over a decade, and being involved in researching and teaching the institutional mechanisms that sustain public urban and regional planning, we wish to highlight the deeply problematic conception of the job of mayor implicit in Hamad’s statements. As the mayor rightly complains, the ...

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You Have, We Have

[Graphic by Jana Trabousli. See slide show for translation and text for explanation]

For the past several weeks I have sat alone in front of two screens: that of my television following the news, and that of my computer reacting to the news. I have written and drawn my anger, and shared it with friends—both on line and in person. I have gone down to the streets, with thousands of others. Now, at this historical moment of the country’s movements and struggle, I am now part of an “us.” We take back our streets, sea, and forests, and we leave them the walls, the parking meters, and the gates and their locks. They divide the profits of their bids and illegally extend their government power. We have legitimacy and people power. These visuals, ...

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انتفاضة بيروت: ما العمل الآن؟

 [ كتبت ناديا بوعلي هذه المادة وتم تداولها في أكثر من موقع. اضغط/ي هنا للنسخة الإنجليزية]  ما نشهده خلال اليومين الماضيين في شوارع بيروت يُفرح ويُقلق في آن.إن الصراع الاجتماعي ضد رأس المال النيوليبرالي وسلطة الدولة المتمثلة بجهاز إيديولوجي مدعوم من قبل السلطة الأمنية والعسكرية هو صراع صعب وطريقة قاسية وشاقة. لا بد لنا من أن نؤكد على أحقية هذا التحرك الشعبي وأن نتضامن معه بكل الوسائل من أجل تحقيق أهدافه الثورية.الصعوبات الأساسية التي تواجه المتظاهرين اليوم تكمن في كيفية التخلص من صيغة المطالب الشعبوية المقرونة بوطنية لبنانية كَثُر تواجدها في الخطاب العام للتحرك، الاحتفاء بالنشيد الوطني اللبناني والدعوة لوحدة الطوائف وترابط الإسلام والمسيحية، يجب أن يُستبدل ...

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We Are, You Are

[Graphic by Jana Trabousli. See slide show for translation and text for explanation]

Graphic 1 City-centers are named as such because they gather people. They should not belong, be managed, or be controlled by a few. They should not be accessible only to a few. They are where all inhabitants walk, meet, stroll, buy, stop, and rejoin. City-centers are also where we protest. They are where we contest and subvert. They will always be as such. We are not the margins, but the centers. They have placed security officers, concrete blocks, and check points. They are the ones that have controlled and perverted our sidewalks, gardens, and public squares. They have built walls against us and around the spaces where we gather and unite. If in May 1968 the French ...

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A Perfect Metaphor? The Trash Crisis in Lebanon: An Interview With Ziad Abu-Rish

[Overflowing trash in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut in late July 2015. Image by Ziad Abu-Rish]

On Tuesday, Lebanese security forces arrested and beat up protesters staging a sit-in at the office of the environmental ministry in Beirut. For the past two weeks, thousands of people have been protesting the government’s inability to provide basic services and demanding an end to the widespread corruption and sectarianism embedded in the country's sectarian political system. Garbage has become a perfect metaphor for the rot of the chronically dysfunctional political system that holds sway in Lebanon today. According to various reports, at one point, an estimated 8000 to 22,000 tonnes of rubbish piled up on the streets. The movement, called “You Stink,” has tapped ...

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Beirut Revolt: What Is to be Done?

[Graffiti in downtown Beirut:

[The following reflection on protests in Beirut was written and circulated by Nadia Bou Ali on 27 August 2015] Beirut Revolt: What Is to be Done? What we have witnessed over the past two days on the streets of Beirut is both exhilarating and potentially debilitating for the current social struggle against neo-liberal capitalism in Lebanon. An uprising is indeed called for in the face of a rampant neo-liberal state that has a remarkably resilient ideological apparatus supported by a highly militarized security force. This uprising is to be affirmed, supported, and pushed to reach its radical potentials.  The main challenge facing the protestors is to rid themselves ...

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Quick Thoughts: Moe Ali Nayel on Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis and Protest Movement

[Graffiti on the wall erected by Lebanese government around the Office of the Prime Minister to prevent protesters from reaching it. Artists took to spraying, drawing, and painting various artwork critiquing the status quo. In this mural, various political parties are represented as silencing the people. Photo by Joelle Boutros]

[On 22 August 2015, what had in previous weeks been a small protest against the breakdown in garbage collection in Beirut turned into a major anti-corruption demonstration calling for fundamental political and economic change in Lebanon. The protesters have been met with escalating repressive violence, and the movement has thus far caught both coalitions of the severely polarized political establishment by surprise. Jadaliyya asked Moe Ali Nayel, a Beirut-based journalist, to explain the background and current dynamics of the protest movement and the reactions of various groups.] Jadaliyya (J): How and why did Lebanon's "garbage crisis" develop, and why has it ...

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في تعاقب المنافي، ستحملنا الريح إلى الوطن

[مظاهرة في كفرسوسة بتاريخ 12 حزيران 2012/ رويترز]

دمشق، الاغتراب المٌبكر ولدتُ وترعرت في دمشق، لم أعرف مدينةً سواها حتى انتصف عقدي الثاني. معرفتي بسوريا كانت كمعرفة سائر سكان دمشق، ممن لا يضطرون إلى الخروج منها إلا بقصد سياحةٍ مُحددة المقاصد، أو لرحلات عملٍ سريعة. لم يكن يحرك سكان العاصمة فضولٌ كبير للتعرف على بقية البلاد. سأفعل ذلك لاحقاً بفضل العمل، ومن ثم بفضل الثورة. قسمٌ من الوافدين إلى دمشق كانوا يذهبون لزيارة مدنهم وقراهم التي قدموا منها إما طلباً للعلم أو العمل، أو رغبةً في حياةٍ أفضل. أما «الشوام» أمثالي، فلم يكن لهم ضيعة ولا مدينة أخرى ليزوروها. دمشق كانت سوريتي بالكامل، قلما خرجت منها. ولأنها كانت كل ما هو متاحٌ لي، ولأنها كانت الوطن الذي لا أعرف غيره، كان لزاماً علي أن أكتشفها، أن أوطد علاقتي بها.  ما ...

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أن نرسم بيروت من رويات مستأجريها - دعوة للمشاركة في 6 ورش عمل

​مساحة بحثية تشاركية لتفعيل الحق في المدينة والسكن  من خلال ٦ ورش عمل تركز على تجارب المستأجرين القدامى في أحياء المدينة المختلفة من يشارك في الورشة؟ تتوجّه ورش العمل إلى مجموعةٍ مختارةٍ من الشبان والشابات ممن لديهم/ن اهتمامٌ في القضايا المدينية، والبحوث، ورسم الخرائط، وكذلك روايات أحياء بيروت وتاريخها. نشجع من لديهم خبرة في مجالات الدراسات المدينية، العمارة، التصميم الغرافيكي، الأنثروبولوجيا، وإختصاصات أخرى ذات صلة، كما سكان الأحياء الى التسجيل في الورشة. سيتم اختيار 12 مشارك لكل ورشة. ما هو موضوع الورشة؟ تتناول ورش العمل بشكل رئيسٍ إشكالية السكن في بيروت، مع التركيز على تجارب المستأجرين/ات القدامى في تأمين السكن في المدينة، ...

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TandemWorks Launches its Rehabilitation Scheme of Beirut River

The founders of TandemWorks, Mayssa and Alia Badawi, are pleased to announce their inaugural project, Hammoud Badawi, in collaboration with theOtherDada (tOD) Integrated Architecture Lab, the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), and UN-Habitat, as part of a scheme to rehabilitate the Beirut River. TandemWorks is a new, Beirut-based non-profit arts organisation which advocates social, cultural, and environmental change by means of multidisciplinary interventions in public places. Under the ...

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Table Ronde: Observer la ville dans le Monde Arabe (Vidéo)

Le 5 juin 2015, une table ronde intitulée Observer la ville dans le Monde Arabe s'est tenue dans le cadre des "Rendez-vous de l’histoire du monde arabe" de l'Institut du Monde Arabe de Paris. Organisée et animée par Vincent Lemire, historien spécialiste de Jérusalem, elle rassemblait Mercedes Volait, historienne de l’architecture, fondatrice de l’Observatoire urbain du Caire contemporain en 1985 au sein du CEDEJ, Eric Denis, géographe, qui en fut l’animateur entre 1993 et 2002, Eric ...

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كابوس دمشـق وســماواتها: يوميات سورية

العودة إلى الشام 14  آب/أغسطس 2011  وقفتُ في الدور قلقاً بعض الشيء. لطالما أثار فيَّ مطارُ دمشق، أنا الكردي العراقي بجنسيتين عراقية وأخرى أمريكية مع اسم عليّ أن أردده أكثر من مرة قبل ترجمته، خليطاً غريباً من مشاعر التوجس والقلق وصولاً إلى الخوف. تُعتبر المطارات واجهة مصغرة لمدنها وهي بمثابة بوابتها التي تمنحك نكهة روح المدينة. مثّلَ مطارُ دمشق بالنسبة لي بالوجوه العابسة لضباطه وشرطته غرفة تحقيق هائلة وظيفتها بث القلق والخضوع  استعداداً للدخول الى فضاء المدينة العام.    وقفتُ ...

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Call for Applicants: Assistant Professor of American Studies, The Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research (The American University of Beirut)

The Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University of Beirut is seeking to appoint an Americanist from any social science discipline or humanities discipline, starting September 1, 2016 at the rank of Assistant Professor. We are particularly interested in a scholar whose research and interests engage the fields of transnational American Studies and can contribute to the Center’s MA program in Transnational American Studies, in addition to an existing ...

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Call for Applicants: The Edward Said Chair of American Studies (The American University of Beirut)

The Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University of Beirut is searching for the 2016-2017 Edward Said Chair of American Studies to begin September 1, 2016.  CASAR is an interdisciplinary research and academic center that offers an undergraduate minor and a new MA in Transnational American Studies. CASAR hosts visiting lecturers and organizes an international, bi-annual conference.  CASAR has a generous endowment from the Alwaleed Foundation and ...

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قمامة لبنان من الفساد إلى صفر- نفايات: مقابلة للوضع بين زياد أبي شاكر ورانية المصري

في الحوار التالي يناقش المهندس والمنظّم زياد أبي شاكرسياسات الإدارة الفاسدة والفاشلة لنفايات لبنان الصلبة المسببة للتلوث، بالإضافة إلى الخيارات العقلانية لصفر نفايات.تتضمن المقابلة التالية أربعة أجزاء، بحيث يمكنكم أن تنقروا.عليهما بشكل منفصل. بوسعكم أن تقرأوا أيضاً النص العربي المدوّن المرافق. زياد أبي شاكر مهندس متعدد الاختصاصات متخصص في بناء مصانع لتدوير النفايات البلدية على المناطق المختلفة ويعمل ضد اتجاه  مصنع إعادة تدوير مركزي ضخم. وحين كان يقوم بالأبحاث في جامعة روتجرز في نيو جيرسي، في ...

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Garbage Crisis Exposes Arrogance and Conflict Among the Political Elite of Lebanon

The government just does not seem to get it. Protests that kicked off in Lebanon a few weeks ago are no longer about the garbage crisis. They are fundamentally about the failure of successive Lebanese governments to provide basic services for citizens. They are about corruption associated with managing public resources, and the subsequently high prices that Lebanese are forced to pay for very poor services. Let us take power for instance: many Lebanese pay two bills—one to unreliable EDL (Electricité du ...

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Lebanon: What Do You Mean There Is No State?

[Introductory text by Ziad Abu-Rish. All graphics by Jana Traboulsi] This past week, thousands of Lebanese citizens took to the streets under the banner of “You Stink” to protest political and economic corruption in the country. They did so in the face of a brutal attempt to disperse the protests and silence those partaking in them. The mobilizations have their origins in the July 2015 garbage crisis, but also the broader dismal condition of public services as well as the profit-seeking networks and ...

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Open Letter to Mr. Bilal Hamad, President of the Municipal Council of Beirut

[The following open letter by Lebanese economist Jad Chaaban was originally published on his website on 27 August 2015.] Beirut, 27 August 2015 Open Letter to Mr. Bilal Hamad, President of the Municipal Council of Beirut Dear Mr. Hamad, I am writing to you as a Lebanese citizen and taxpayer, and a permanent resident of Beirut. I did not vote to elect you for the Municipal Council, because of our country’s twisted and sectarian election laws that do not allow us to elect our representatives based on ...

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Lebanon, August 2015: Notes on Paralysis, Protests, and Hope

The past ten years in Lebanon have been a study in political paralysis and escalating anger and frustration among citizens and residents of the country. To recap only the most basic of facts, since 2005 the country divided and polarized into two “camps”—March 14 and March 8, led by the Future Movement and Hezbollah, respectively. In these ten years there has been a war with Israel, armed clashes between these two camps, and a series of political assassinations. These years have also brought the military ...

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Protests in Beirut: Quick Background and Some Videos

Updated: 11pm Sunday 23 August (Beirut Time) For the second night in a row protestors have clashed with riot police and armed forces in downtown Beirut. Yesterday security forces attempted to violently disperse protestors at a demonstration called for by the You Stink movement using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. In response, Lebanese television stations reported that over fifteen thousand people from all over the country congregated in downtown Beirut to continue to demand ...

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New Texts Out Now: Franck Mermier, Récits de villes: d’Aden à Beyrouth

Franck Mermier, Récits de villes: d’Aden à Beyrouth. Arles: Actes Sud/Sindbad, 2015.         Jadaliyya (J): Qu’est-ce qui vous a fait publier ce livre? Franck Mermier (FM): Après des recherches sur la ville de Sanaa et sur l’édition dans le monde arabe, particulièrement à Beyrouth, j’ai réalisé des enquêtes sur cette dernière ville où j’ai vécu de 2002 à 2009. Je me suis intéressé notamment à la question des perceptions et pratiques de l’espace urbain ...

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