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You reap what they sow: Understanding the issues linked to the agricultural sector in Lebanon

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After examinig the current state of agriculture in Lebanon, this article will investigate the implications of the Lebanese food production system and will try to identify the reasons underlying this situation. Finally, the article will shed light on the emergence of a form of ‘alternative agriculture’ and will try to understand whether or not it can be a sustainable solution to assure food security in the country in the face of rapidly advancing climate change.

Photo: Djizeus. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

Statehood & Participation

‘Islamic Feminism’ in Lebanon: Portraying a counter-discourse

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Islam and Feminism, those two words seem like an oxymoron to most people. But it is not to everyone. Starting in the 90's a number of Islamic feminists from different parts of the world took the stage and made their struggle for women‘s emancipation public. This paper delves into the basic concept of Islamic Feminism and attempts to portray the counter-discourse as it is forming in Lebanon.
Ann-Kathrin Steger

The case of Beirut Madinati: How to maintain a wind of change?

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Changing a crooked system from within might seem like a desperate effort, especially when the same political actors had been in power for over 20 years facilitating corruption and clientelism. Yet, it is a task that the civil platform Beirut Madinati took upon itself when they ran in the 2016 Lebanese municipal elections for the Beirut city council. Although they were not able to win a seat due to the Lebanese winner-takes-all electoral system, their high electoral success caused a massive uproar, also among the established political parties. For this research, a series of interviews has been conducted with members of Beirut Madinati in order to assess the reasons for their success, public reactions and considerations for their further proceedings.

The Uphill Battle with a Boulder

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8,331 - is the astonishing number of officially registered civil society organisations in the small state of Lebanon. From HIV prevention over democracy building to environmental protection, almost no topic remains unaddressed. However, from a closer look, the impact yielded by these groups in the compact state in the Middle East often remains somewhat restricted. On the example of gender equality – a topic fervently debated in Lebanon – this paper analyses the internal and external reasons behind this surprising discrepancy and stipulate thought about how to make the Lebanese civil society work more effectively.

Nothing but a demonstration?

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The civil society movement during the garbage crisis in Beirut after July 2015.

When garbage started to pile up in the streets of Beirut in summer 2015, a new wave of civil society protests was initiated in the country. Thousands of Lebanese were protesting in the streets – against the garbage situation, corruption of the government, the failure of electing a president, sectarianism and many more issues connected to the crisis of the state and the waste management. More than half a year later, no final solution for the garbage has been found and the political situation has not changed. It is said that the civil society movement failed to put pressure on the government, but also the regime itself is made responsible for the lack of change. For many people it was hard to follow up with what was happening on the streets during the demonstrations and to understand who the protestors were and which goals they tried to achieve. This paper analyzes the dynamics of the movement and tries to explain why not much has changed so far and if there is any chance for civil society movements in Lebanon in the future.

Perspectives Issue 8 - October 2015

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The fight against corruption in the MENA region has gone through several ups and downs. Prevention, awareness and purification campaigns aiming to eradicate endemic or systemic corruption have had very little impact. The political will and the good intentions formulated in speeches and conferences during the democratic transitions referred to as the “Arab Spring” have hardly born results.

Social Classes and Political Power in Lebanon

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A powerful and undeniable cliché: that Lebanon is a sectarian country, a country of sects. There is no need to set out to prove this. Sectarianism is viewed as a bane and plague, and thus this “bane” becomes the basis of all ills, a plague from which all plagues spring. The existence of classes is often denied because they do not conform to a particular definition of class. In this new study, Professor Fawwaz Traboulsi has investigated more throughly social classes in Lebanon.

Spatial Social Thought: Local Knowledge in Global Science Encounters

In July 2011, hbs and partners held a conference in Beirut on contemporary thought in social sciences in the Arab world, titled “Social Sciences in Arab Countries Facing a Multi-Versalism: Pathways, Challenges and Constraints”. The cooperation World SSH Net , Lebanese Sociology Association, American University of Beirut -(Lebanese Sociology Association), Institut de Recherche pour le développement – France, rendered a number of excellent contributions. With support of hbs, these were edited and translated and now for the first time can be found in a published version. This book, published by Ibidem Verlag, discusses examples of spatially constructed knowledges and the struggles these knowledges en­counter as they seek to meet one another and escape from the mind prison of their spatial contexts. Or does the world social science arena after all only prove that the ‘Western’ dogma of contextualizing social thought is a dead end road for social thought – everywhere?

A sprint turned into a marathon: Take Back the Parliament

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Political systems are always under scrutiny: How well do they serve their purpose? Especially the youth in Lebanon is exploring alternatives, among them "Take Back the Parliament." Researcher Mouna Maaroufi interviewed some of the movement's members to learn more about their ambitions, accomplishments and frustrations.

Democratic Transition in the Middle East

Popular uprisings and revolts across the Arab Middle East have often resulted in a democratic void in power. The book edited by Heinrich boell foundation examines how societies in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq and Lebanon seeks to fill that void, regardless of whether the regime falls or survives.

Walking A Tightrope

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Over the past 15 years, the Arab World has witnessed the rapid development of its news media, raising standards of reporting as well as expectations. With the outbreak of what has become known as the "Arab Spring," the media landscape is again in a heightened state of flux. How far the Arab media have been, and will be, able to contribute to social and political change?

Perspectives #4 November 2012 - Qatar: aspirations and realities

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In the Arab Gulf Region, one political actor, in particular, is becoming more visible, seemingly more engaged in navigating the uncertainties caused by the fast changes emerging in the region and in filling the gaps in this political scene: The state of Qatar. What is the role Qatar is trying to play in the region and is it being translated internally?

Narrating Beirut from its Borderlines

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Narrating Beirut from its Borderlines is a collection of four small research studies that examine a number of the physical and immaterial borderlines that have come to define the contemporary geography of Beirut and its peripheries since 2005.

Cases of Femicide before Lebanese Courts

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“Cases of Femicide before Lebanese Courts” is a study that sheds light on some of the crimes committed against women and girls within the context of the family structure and its relations in Lebanon.

Censorship in Lebanon: Law and Practice

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This study aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of censorship in Lebanon which will hopefully allow the many local artistic and cultural actors the opportunity to lobby for the most appropriate legislative amendments to the current censorship regulations which are currently not conducive to their work.

Diversity and Female Political Participation: Views on and from the Arab World

What does the political participation of women look like within the immense diversity of the Arabic world? This edition of the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s series on Democracy analyzes the historical and current developments of gender relationships, and the role of women in the politics of Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

Cities of the South: Citizenship and Exclusion in the 21st Century

From Baghdad, to Istanbul, to Dhaka, violence and grief are devastating. Every location, every city we have lived in, or walked through, or dreamed of, or even never known or heard of seems to be crumbling under the weight of centuries of inequalities and occupations and homegrown oppressions. As new geographies start to emerge, our atlas of the world is shaken by horrid images, to which we become a bit more immune every day. Despite my discomfort with universalizing frameworks, I cannot but recognize that violence, bombings, police brutality, crackdowns, shootings, incarceration, torture, and wars are pervasive, no matter where we go. And we live with the overpowering realization that no place is safe for non-white, working class bodies.“Beyond Victims and Savages: The Complexities of Violence, Resistance, and Pleasure” could not be more timely.

Homosexuality, Bisexuality: Myths and Realities

Homosexuality is a subject that induced the persecution of a lot of individuals and the shed of their blood.

The situation in Lebanon is not as dangerous as in other countries in the Arab world for those individuals whose sexual orientation does not comply with that of the majority, but it is not less serious. Threats of death, humiliations, blackmails, attacks, marginalization, discriminations, rejections, depressions, suicide attempts, shame, guilt, emotional life ruined, isolation, are in great majority the load of the openly or clandestinely homosexual persons living in homophobic societies.

Unpacking the Dynamics of Communal Tensions: a Focus Group Analysis of Perceptions Among Youth in Lebanon

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'Unpacking the Dynamics of Communal Tensions: A Focus Group Analysis of Perceptions among Youth in Lebanon' is a pilot study on a prevailing trend in Western Asia, namely communal tensions. The study aims to dismantle the dynamics of communal tensions through a focus group analysis that targets the largest segment of the Arab population: youth between the ages of 18 and 25. Lebanon is used as a case study to steer the debate and increase the understanding of the factors fermenting communal tensions that are the root causes of conflict.

 

Bareed Mista3jil

EEM launched in 2009 the book “Bareed Mista3jil”: a collection of 40 true stories from voices in Lebanon that we seldom hear. Their common thread is that they are all from persons of non-conforming sexualities and gender identities, the life of queer women and transgender in Lebanon.

Conflict & International Politics

Towards Tangible Actions for Transitional Justice in Syria - Where to go from here?

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This paper draws on primary data collected from 15 semi-structured interviews with Syrian organisations and practitioners working on transitional justice. The interviews were conducted by the author via online communication (calls over Skype or WhatsApp) between March and June 2017. The interviewees were selected based on the relevance, access and availability of Syrian activists working on this topic. It is not clear how representative the views expressed here are, but the high level of agreement among interviewees on the subjects discussed suggests that the issues highlighted here merit additional attention from local and international actors working on this topic in Syria.

Perspectives #12 - 50 Years of Occupation, 50 Years of Resilience

This year marks 50 years of occupation – a significant period, not only for Palestinians living inside historical Palestine, but indeed first and foremost for them. It means an accumulation of 50 years of dispossession, displacement and oppression, 50 years under threat of being evicted, of losing their fields, springs, orchards and homes. 50 years without political and civil rights, without a future for themselves and their offspring. 50 years of despair and shattered hopes.

Perspectives #11 - 'Khadija, do not close the door!' Women in Peace, in War and In Between

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When women in the Middle East make the headlines, it is usually as victims. Disturbing stories of the so called 'Islamic State' (ISIS) kidnapping and raping tens of thousands of women are sadly often the ones which stick in the Western memory. But there is more to women's political lives in the region than their victimisation and oppression. We decided to look to the future, present and past in this issue, in order to present an alternative narrative which challenges these representations of women.

Perspectives #10 - Borders: Lines in the Sand or in the Mind?

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When ISIS announced the establishment of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ it fuelled discussions as to whether this would herald the ‘end of Sykes-Picot’ – borders artificially drawn by the colonial powers at the beginning of the twentieth century. But borders are more than ‘lines in the sand’: they divide. While the privileged few may cross legitimately by simply presenting their passport, for most, these borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. People fleeing from war, climate change or economic hardship, attempt to cross the Mediterranean but many drown trying.

To good neighbourliness!

The dilemma faced by the EU in its search for an effective policy with Lebanon

The European Union is compelled to define its role in Lebanon anew and needs to disperse tensions within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Is the policy’s focal point to be shared values or stability? Active policy development or non-interference? Perspectives unearthed through fieldwork in Lebanon.

Perspectives Issue 7 - November 2014

Rumour has it ... the new Perspectives is out!

They are only 'hot air' but anyone who has been affected by rumours is familiar with their unhallowed dynamics, and the serious consequences they can entail. Rumours fulfil social functions. They serve as a medium through which unfulfilled hopes or unspecific fears can be voiced. They bond and drive a wedge between people and population groups at the same time. They can destroy reputations, credibility and even lives. Read here twelve experts from the MENA region discussing the topic!

Transitional Justice

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In post-war periods and in the aftermath of serious, systematic human rights violations, gender-based forms of violence are usually forgotten during the processing of the past and reconciliation phase. This study details these problems and presents the resulting challenges facing politicians and society.

Dear Lebanon - A Teenage Perspective of Bombings, Religion and Politics

"Dear Lebanon" a Heinrich Boell supported documentary film offering a teenage perspective of bombings, religion and politics in Lebanon. the film is writen and directed by Raphael Schanz and the teenager’s team: Gassia Shadarevian, Ghida Ladkani, Majd Gharzeddine, Marwan Sakr, Mohamad Bsat, Navia Ghawi, Naye Idriss and Omar EI-Salhan.

Perspectives Issue #6 - December 2013

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Sadly, the Middle East has witnessed some of the largest mass displacements of people worldwide over the past decade. As it currently stands, millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes, moving within the country and sometimes far outside of it. Not surprisingly, neighboring states have absorbed most of these people and have managed well under the circumstances. However, the question of how to deal with the waves of those who have lost everything and might not be able to go back in the near future is a huge challenge for the refugees and for host communities, especially since there is no settlement on the horizon.

Perspectives #5 December 2013- 20 Years Since Oslo: Palestinian Perspectives

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Issue #5 of Perspectives provides space for on-the-ground analysis by Palestinian writers, thinkers and politicians of very different backgrounds in order to explore the Oslo Accords 20 years after their signing from a Palestinian perspective. Perspectives is a quarterly journal dedicated to highlighting research and debate from authors who mostly live and work in the region. It is jointly edited and published by the three HBS offices located in Tunis, Beirut and Ramallah.

Transitional Justice in Syria

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This publication addresses one issue that is inextricably linked to establishing sustainable peace: transitional justice. A stable and sustainable peace in Syria, governed by the rule of law, requires a comprehensive justice and accountability process to defeat the culture of impunity that has allowed violations to go unchallenged for decades. This publication is the result of a cooperation between Dawlaty and No Peace Without Justice. It has been produced in part with the financial assistance of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) MENA- Beirut. The book is also available in Arabic at dawlaty.org.

 

 

Writing Revolution

Writing revolution, a book published by hbs Beirut and I.B.Tauris, is a collection of some of the best new writing born out of the Arab Spring Translated mostly from the Arabic, it has been awarded a 2013 Prize from English PEN for Outstanding Writing in Translation and was launched on May 29th at the Mosaic Room London.

Emerging Powers and the Middle East

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One of the most important focal points of overlapping and competing interests of both established and emerging powers is the Middle East. This region is an arena where the new rules of the game are being developed and acted out. This publication attempts looking at the effects of the global shift of power on the Middle East to explore the perspectives of the region to become a partner in an emerging multi-polar system, rather than a stomping ground or even a battlefield for the interest and the prestige of others. 

With contributions by Azmi Bishara, Parag Khanna, Hermann Schwengel, Vitaly Naumkin, Ibrahim Saif, Yasmeen Tabaa, Sven Behrendt, Mingjiang LI, Praful Bidwai, Ziad Abdel Samad, and Kinda Mohamadieh.

Sudan - No Easy Ways Ahead

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 As the six-year transitional period defined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement draws to a close, Sudan is sliding into another crisis. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, which has been working both with civil society partners in Sudan and on Sudan-related issues in the German context for several years, has put together this publication in order to reflect on such scenarios.

With contributions by Alex de Waal, Atta El-Battahani, Marina Peter, John Yoh, Roland Marchal, and Peter Schumann.

Signs of Conflict: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War

From 1975 to 1990, different factions in Lebanon’s civil conflict flooded the streets with posters to mobilize their constituencies, undermine their enemies, and create public sympathy for their cause. This is how the military performance on the front lines and on demarcation lines was in junction with another kind of conflict rotating around the image and words and the symbolic claiming of territory and land.

What Can Europe Do in Iraq? Recommendations for a New U.S.-European Collaboration

This publication describes a new start of cooperation between Europe, the United States, and regional partners in the Middle East to tackle the challenges in Iraq and to help bring peace, stability, and sustainable development to the wider region.

With contributions by Layla Al Zubaidi, Bülent Aras, Megan Chabalowski, Richard Gowan, Faleh Jabar, Daniel Korski, Sami Moubayed, Daniel Serwer, and Heiko Wimmen

Environmental Justice

Perspectives #13 - 'What's stirring? The region's politics dished out'

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Countless combinations of tastes and textures shape the rich culinary landscape of the region. Bridging cultural differences and political rifts, food is a common thread for many in the Arabic speaking world. It is an essential part of a nation’s identity and sophisticated recipes are almost an issue of national pride: although most mouth-watering dishes are often the result of a long history of international migration of ingredients.

The Horch Beirut for All Campaign 2010-2016

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Public space is essential for urban life - it enables people from all social strata and backgrounds to meet, enjoy the space together, and form a harmonious identity. Yet, Beirut is notorious for its lack of such spaces.

Before the civil war, Horsh Beirut, was the only sizeable park of the city, and a place for gatherings, festivals, and traditions. However, in 1982 an Israeli raid destroyed most of it, decimating the number of trees. So following the end of the war, the Municipality of Beirut signed a partnership agreement with the Regional Council of Ile-de-France to rehabilitate the park with the initial plan of reopening it to the public in 1995. This date was then pushed back to 2002 in order to allow the newly planted pine trees to grow bigger1. However, the year 2002 came and yet the gates to the park remained shut to the public, and became only accessible to those who request a special permit from the Municipality. In practice, the vast majority of Beirut residents had become deprived of their right to enjoy the place, under the pretext that the municipality is inadequately equipped to manage it. This led NAHNOO, a youth non-governmental organization, to spearhead the “Horsh Beirut for All” advocacy campaign to challenge the situation in late 2010 which led to its reopening to the public 5 years later, in 2015.

This brochure tells the story of our journey.

Resource Politics for a Fair Future

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The central question for us, therefore, is how the use of natural resources needs to be organized so as to respect the ecological limits of our world and, at the same time, strengthen human rights and democracy. In order to capture the diversity of regional perspectives on this question, we have conducted an international dialogue process entitled «Resource Equity in a Finite World» which sought to harness the knowledge and experience of young people in particular, both in our partner countries and in Germany and Europe.

Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields

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Through misuse, we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil every year. For the International Year of Soils in 2015, this Atlas shows, why the soil should concern us all. Jointly published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.

The Green Economy – The New Magic Bullet?

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Exactly what a green economy is and should be, and with what measures and instruments it should be implemented, has not yet been defined and is the topic of intense political debate. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to develop a “Green Economy Roadmap.” Rio+20 should not simply be a repetition of previous international conferences. Instead it must offer a true breakthrough on the path to a social, just, low-carbon and resource-efficient world.

Climate Change and the Right to Food

This study highlights how the climate change regime and the human rights regime addressing the right to food have failed to coordinate their agendas and to collaborate to each other’s mutual benefit. It proposes concrete methods by which institutions can address climate change problems and realize the right to food symbiotically, in compliance with the principles of systemic integration under international law.

Urban Futures 2030

Half of the world's population lives in cities. This publication gathers the answers of selected experts to the challenges of sustainable urban planing and architecture.

The Myth of Nuclear Power

The myth of nuclear power keeps persevering. Therefore the Heinrich Böll Foundation has commissioned renowned international nuclear experts to deliver detailed facts central to the myths of nuclear energy. This overview provides the public with a current, facts rich and nuclear-critical know-how.

Tales of the Badia - Bedouin Folk Tales from Lebanon

This book, written by a woman of the Bedouin community in the Lebanese Bekaa valley, is a compendium of some of the Bedouin tales (Sawalef) orally transmitted in the Abu Eid community. The tales are recounted in Bedouin dialect. By making public some of the oral history of that community, the books sheds light on the life of the marginalized Bedouins of Lebanon.

At the Edge of the City - Reinhabiting Public Space toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh Al-Sanawbar

“At the Edge of the City” is a contemporary critique of urban governance and spatial production in Beirut. The undertaking is advocating in scope, multidisciplinary in approach, and journalistic in style. The book is an edited volume on public space in Beirut, focused on the case of Beirut’s park Horsh Al-Sanawbar, hosting the original textual and visual works of over 25 scholars, professionals, journalists, activists, and artists.

“At the Edge of the City” presents multidisciplinary, textual and visual contributions that attempt to shape an understanding of continuously evolving meanings of public space in Beirut, opening up the discussion and raising questions, and challenging the status quo, as well as the social imagination, of public space itself.

Slow Trade - Sound Farming: A Multilateral Framework for Sustainable Markets in Agriculture

This report is the result of the EcoFair Trade Dialogue, a two-years extensive consultation and exchange process that took place across all continents. The proposals have been discussed and improved upon by a great number of representatives from farmer organizations and grass-roots initiatives, politics, the academic world, and civil society organizations. As it is high time to achieve a paradigm shift and start trade negotiations towards a General Agreement on Sustainable Trade, this report understands itself as a contribution to this aim.

Culture & Dialogue

Against all odds?

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Comics, Hip-Hop, paintings, poems or festivals. What effect can art have on a society? How do artists interact with lebanese society and what problems do they face? Artists give insights to structures, aims and problems of the Beirut art scene.

Cultural Practices of Arab Youth - Volume XIV 2009-2010

The latest volume of collected articles and essays published by Bahithat (The Lebanese Association of Women Researchers) analyzes and contextualizes contemporary cultural practices and forms of entertainment applied by young people (aged 15 – 24 years) in several Arab countries and in the Diaspora.

MNSG – Navigating the Space between Exile and Home

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Displacement has been an unfailing feature of recent Iraqi history. During the last thirty to forty years, substantial numbers of Iraqi civilians fled their homes compelled by war, uprisings, and government - directed policies of ethnic cleansing and systematic forced resettlement. The US-led invasion of April 2003 began under the projection of mass displacement. Aid agencies and human rights organizations warned, and governments throughout the Middle East feared, that the invasion risked triggering a massive exodus of Iraqis. This, however did not materialize immediately. It did, however in subsequent years and with great force. As the security and political climate destabilized in Iraq, the violence that ensued triggered a massive wave of displacement, both within the country and outside

What a Story: Children’s Literature Today

Children’s literature in Lebanon nowadays is characterized by its dynamic development which shows through different traditional and contemporary narrations. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors that prevent the development of innovative children’s literature such as a lack of analytical studies, its quality, the absence of not modern issues (such as gender, conflict, environmental issues etc), and a lack of opportunities to exchange different experiences on the local, regional or international levels.

‘All that is banned is desired.’

The report is a documentation of a regional conference "Freedom of Expression in Music", that was held in Beirut from 7 to 8 October 2005, in collaboration with Freemuse - World Forum on Music and Censorship and Irab-Arabic Association for Music. The report does not give a full picture of music censorship in the Middle East and North Africa. It does, however, give a picture of a region that – like many other regions of the world – experiences both traditionalist and modernist tendencies, civil and religious trends as well as struggles for self-determination and cultural diversity against cultural domination.

Waiting for the Barbarians - A Tribute to Edward Said

In engaging with the richly varied and seminal scholarship of Edward Said, Waiting for the Barbarians aims to recover the notion of culture as a collective, hybrid and plural experience, inlight of the political imperative that rules our present. In bringing together some of the figures most closely associated with Said and his scholarship, this comprehensive volume looks at Said the literary critic and public intellectual, Palestine, and Said’s intellectual legacy: the future through the lens of his work.

Damascus: Tourists, Artists, Secret Agents

This book concludes an artistic research project which took place in Damascus in October 2008 and through an online platform in the months before and after. The project “Reloading Images: Damascus / Work in Progress 2008” brought together cultural practitioners from Syria, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Turkey, USA, Egypt and Slovakia to discuss forms of artistic agency and work together on artistic projects taking the city of Damascus as a starting point.