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Lebanon

“Til Sect Do You Part?” On Sectarianism and Intermarriage in Lebanon

In August 2017, a Christian man and a Muslim woman (Boutros and Marwa) made headlines when they married in Lebanon. Why? One might assume that the interreligious nature of the couple prompted this media attention. However, that was far from the case. In my current research on Lebanese social responses to interreligious and intersectarian marriages/long-term relationships, I have had no difficulty locating people to interview. Mixed couples are more common than people often imagine, and exist to varying extents across generations, classes, and communities. As such, it is unlikely that a mixed marriage would make the news. No, what warranted media attention in this case ...

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The Changing Face of Street Art in the MENA Region: Diminishing the Voice of the People?

[Ouzville in Progress. May 2017. Image by Camille Reynolds.]

Street art in all of its forms has long been associated with subversive goals and a compelling aesthetic. Created by individuals and communities who strived to push back against oppressive systems of power, contribute to civil and political discourses they were otherwise excluded from, and expand upon the boundaries of artistic expression, street art has always been a highly inclusive, accessible, and often effective method for those in a society to amplify their voice. Political actors across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region in particular have used street art to articulate dissent and dissatisfaction with oppressive regimes. However, there are also those who ...

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Statement of Condemnation and Clarification by the Socialist Forum in Lebanon

[Logo of Socialist Forum]

[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 "terrorists" based in the camp. As a result, several people were killed, amongst them a child, and several soldiers were wounded due to a suicide bombing inside the ...

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

المنتدى الاشتراكي يدين العنصرية ويتضامن مع اللاجئين السوريين

[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 لتنظيمات إرهابية. وقد تناقل العديد من وسائل الإعلام صور المعتقلين في ظروف غير إنسانية، من تعذيب وانتهاك لكرامة البشر. لم ينته الأمر هنا، إذ أعلن الجيش يوم الثلاثاء في 4 ...

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

[Negotiations and invisible tactics: bargaining over space as well as prices. Image by Petra Samaha]

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 public shared spaces (Simone 2004 & 2009, Bayat 1998 & 2010). These mechanisms lend some sort of spatial flexibility to the street transforming it into much more than ...

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Survivor: Life After Cluster Bomb

[Mohammed's prosthetic legs lie on a sofa at his home in the Rashidiyeh camp for Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon. Photo by Laura Boushnak.]

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 conflict. The fact that he lives a five-minute drive from my parents' home made it easier to follow him through the years. I saw the young boy who had to endure physical ...

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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 parallel with people and organizations working on preserving the memory of past war, on communal peace building initiatives, and on advocating for forms of transitional ...

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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 transformed whole neighborhoods overnight, not least in and around the city center, where many of the residential buildings from the late Ottoman period were located. ...

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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 refrains from foreclosing on the historical narrative by attending to the cleavages and conflicting interests within continuously shifting nationalist alignments. In Hakim’s ...

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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 degree in Reproductive and Sexual Health Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSTHM) in the United Kingdom since 2009, and a Bachelor of ...

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Media on Media Roundup (March 30)

[Photo by Unsplash, Flickr]

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 airports. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, journalist Maria Maalouf is set to be questioned by the Lebanese judiciary following a set of tweets about Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah ...

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دورنا في صناعة الظلام

[المصدر موقع زنوبيا رسالة وطن]

[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 لم يصوّت لدونالد ترامب هو مذنب كشخص صوّت. ما أحاول مواصلة الإشارة إليه، للأصدقاء، ولأي شخص يحب أن يصغي، هو أن قلة منا ترغب بالاعتراف بالمسؤولية، ليس بالضرورة قبول ...

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George Wassouf: the People's Champ

Whenever memories take me back to the time when the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) had just ended, one sound always echoes along the scenes: it is the special voice of that one singer who will always function as an anchor pinning down that particular slice of my remembrance of the past. Born in 1961 Kafroun, a Syrian village located in the countryside of Homs, George Wassouf came from a modest family. At the age of sixteen, he moved to Lebanon on his own and managed to find the space to shine as the star ...

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War is Here: The Lebanese Political Elites Unite Again

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 ...

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

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Media on Media Roundup (April 25)

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 ...

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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 ...

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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

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 ...

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Remembering Husayn Muruwwah, the ‘Red Mujtahid’

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 ...

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