Research Materials
Studies for Art and Politics in The Arab World
北アフリカー中東地域の主要サイト | Arab Art Sites Mapping in North Africa and Middle East


Melani Cammett, Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon, Cornell University Press, 2014
Publisher's description

Unpacking Lebanon's Resilience: Undermining State Institutions and Consolidating the System?


「You Stink (臭うぞ) 運動」とレバノンの政治的リジリエンス | You Stink Movement and political resilience of Lebanon

パラレル国家の自治主義 | communalism in the parallel state


Readings at a glance

photo: Y. Morioka, 2018

内戦の日々の記憶 | ordinary people's memory of civil war


Lamia Ziadé, Olivia Snaije (Translator), Bye Bye Babylon: Beirut 1975-1979 ,

Italian edition: 2011, English edition: 2012 

A illustrated essay ruminating the private memories of civil war state in Beirut through the author's point of view as a non-armed citizen, Bye bye Babylon is a graphic memoir detailing the first 5 years of Lebanon’s civil war, starting from 1975. The author, in 1975, was 7 years old. It is raw and sometimes painful, with some excellent artwork. Ziade does an excellent job of highlighting the complexities of war (and the stupidity of it).


Readings at a glance


Aseel Sawalha, Reconstructing Beirut: Memory and Space in a Postwar Arab City ,

University of Texas Press, 2011.

Once the cosmopolitan center of the Middle East, Beirut was devastated by the civil war that ran from 1975 to 1991, which dislocated many residents, disrupted normal municipal functions, and destroyed the vibrant downtown district. The aftermath of the war was an unstable situation Sawalha considers "a postwar state of emergency," even as the state strove to restore normalcy. This ethnography centers on various groups' responses to Beirut's large, privatized urban-renewal project that unfolded during this turbulent moment.

At the core of the study is the theme of remembering space. The official process of rebuilding the city as a node in the global economy collided with local day-to-day concerns, and all arguments invariably inspired narratives of what happened before and during the war. Sawalha explains how Beirutis invoked their past experiences of specific sites to vie for the power to shape those sites in the future. Rather than focus on a single site, the ethnography crosses multiple urban sites and social groups, to survey varied groups with interests in particular spaces. The book contextualizes these spatial conflicts within the discourses of the city's historical accounts and the much-debated concept of heritage, voiced in academic writing, politics, and journalism. In the afterword, Sawalha links these conflicts to the social and political crises of early twenty-first-century Beirut.

Post War Beirut   source: New World Encyclopedia,    quoted under CC 3.0 licence.

Beirut was once considered the most Westernized city in the Arab Middle East, and its hub of economic, social, intellectual, and cultural life. However, it was ravaged by a 15 year long civil war (1975-1990) from which it has not fully recovered.

Prior to the war, foreign banking and business firms favored Beirut as a base for their Middle East operations. It was considered a liberal city in a liberal country, in the midst of nations ruled by authoritarian or militarist regimes.

Lebanon's ending to its civil war did not mean an end of strife. Beirut attracted Palestinian resistance organizations in the latter half of the 1960s and became headquarters to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1970. Israeli troops trapped the PLO in the city in 1982, requiring intercession by multinational forces. Still violence continued and Beirut was essentially a warzone, causing many residents and businesses to leave the city.

Since 1990, the city has made extensive reconstruction efforts to restore its infrastructure, economic base, and historic landmarks. Prior to the war, Beirut was a popular tourist destination and is becoming so again in the early years of the twenty-first century. Headway has been made within the economic sector—Travel and Leisure Magazine's World Best Awards 2006 ranked Beirut as ninth best city in the world, falling just short of New York City and coming ahead of San Francisco. However, this was prior to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Recurring instability no doubt hampers the city's efforts at regaining its previous glory. In addition, there is now competition from places such as Dubai and Cyprus in the fields of tourism, business, fashion, commerce, and banking. However, the air of tolerance in Beirut is a strong asset. While censorship of the press is strong in many Middle Eastern countries, it enjoys freedom in Lebanon. Catering to the Arab world at large, Lebanese printing actually expanded during the war years to become one of the country’s major industries.



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近現代美術館 | modern/contemprary museum  MM    ギャラリー | art gallery  AG    アートセンター | art center  AC    古代史博物館 | historical museum  AM    その他の博物館 | other museums  OM
財団・NPO | foundation, NPO  FM    モニュメント | artistic monument  AM    パブリック・アート | site of public art  PA

Beirut Art Center, a non-profit association, space and platform dedicated to experimental art in Beirut, was initiated by Sandra Dagher and Iamia Joreige. It opened in 2009. The aim is to produce, present and contextualize local and international art researches and cultural practices in a space that is open and active all year long and not requiring any entrance fees. Established in 2009, BAC is an unprecedented initiative in Beirut. It constitutes the first public space for exhibiting and for addressing residents and visitors it also incites exchanges, debates and discussions among them. bac aims to allow the engagement with various art forms and experiences and alternative ways of knowledge production and “redistribution”. It aims to support local and regional contemporary artists and facilitate the creation and realization of projects as well as the interaction among local and international cultural players.


Tripoli; Overview

Tripoli is an old city in northern Lebanon. It is the largest city in Northern Lebanon, and is Lebanon's second capital, with a population of nearly 530,000 (metro area).

The city's history stretches back to the 7th century BC as a port city. It saw rapid development during the following periods as a Persian and subsequently Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and eventually Arab city. The latter which would bring it to the forefront of trade, commerce and education throughout the Middle East. Tripoli is therefore considered Lebanon's most ancient city with surviving souks and mosques that were built up to 9 and 10 centuries ago.

In recent times the city has witnessed an unfortunate financial decline due to the shift of wealth southwards towards Beirut. This began towards the start of the 19th century as Beirut moved from Ottoman to the colonial French era. This brought about extensive investment and development to the capital as Tripoli which was formerly a capital of its own state, was negated to becoming the second city in the newly created "Greater Lebanon".

Tripoli's historic status, coupled with a young and dynamic well educated populace has meant that the city continues to be a contender for strong growth and development in Lebanon (given the right investment). The city's unfinished and highly cherished International Fair, built by Oscar Niemeyer during Lebanon's big state days of Fouad Chihab, is testament to a story of what could have been.

source: Wikitravel under Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 licence.

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