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Personal profile

Research interests

I work across the fields of Middle Eastern studies, visual and cultural studies and design history. My research is concerned with the intersections of visual culture, design and politics, with a particular attention on Lebanon and the Arab world. My investigation is historically focused on post-1945 anticolonial struggles, transnational anti-imperialist solidarities and violent conflicts, as complicated by a global Cold War order. I approach the Middle East less as a discrete area study but rather as a political geography interconnected with global conditions of modernity, (post)coloniality, war and conflict.

 

Scholarly biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities, teaching across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and the Course Leader of the interdisciplinary BA degree War and Conflict. I convene the postgraduate module ‘Issues in Graphic Design’ on the MA History of Design and Material Culture and coordinate the undergraduate option pathway Globalisation, History and Identity

Before taking up my post at Brighton, I was both a successful graphic designer and an academic at the American University of Beirut (1999 – 2016) in Lebanon. I recently opted to consolidate my scholarly pursuit; hence my relocation to the UK to undertake a fully-funded PhD degree at the University of Brighton (2013–2016). 

I began examining the intersections of visual culture, war and conflict in my first monograph, Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War (IB Tauris 2009). Excavating unexplored archives and suppressed narratives of wartime Lebanon, I have argued for an understanding of political posters as discursive sites of a complex hegemonic struggle where imaginaries, desires and anxieties of antagonistic political subjectivities, under formation and transformation during wartime, are visually articulated, contested and battled over. I have also curated the related travelling exhibition, entitled Signs of Conflict (Beirut 2008; Istanbul 2009; Sevilla 2011; Thessaloniki 2011; Umea 2012; San Francisco 2013), and folded the various outputs of this project into a bilingual (Arabic and English) online archival resource http://www.signsofconflict.org. The project has won six funding awards; and the book has been widely recognized by peers as a pioneering study (see book reviews here). 

My forthcoming book, Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut's Global Sixties (Cambridge University Press 2020), revisits the relations between visual culture and politics from global and postcolonial perspectives. Drawing on uncharted archives of everyday printed matter, my study sheds light on hitherto understudied graphic design practices and modes of translocal visuality attached to print technologies. I critically engage this material against the grain of nationally circumscribed frameworks of analysis to examine instead the mobility of modernist cultural forms, discourses and practises within the disjunctive flows of Beirut’s long 1960s, from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s. My enquiry reveals key cultural transformations that saw the city develop as a Mediterranean site of tourism and leisure, a nexus between modern art and pan-Arab publishing and, through the rise of the Palestinian Resistance, a node in revolutionary anti-imperialism. Cosmopolitan Radicalism was awarded The Design History Society Research Publication Grant in 2019.

I am currently co-editing a book, with Dr Cathy Bergin and Dr Francesca Burke, based on the successful conference ‘The Radical Sixties: Aesthetics, Politics and Histories of Solidarity’ we convened at Brighton (27-29 June 2019). This research project seeks to decentre the established Western loci and temporality of “the Sixties” and calls for new analyses of this critical historical conjuncture from the standpoint of transnational solidarity with, and across, anti-imperialist and anticolonial liberation struggles of the Global South.

My earlier art projects and publications include: Mapping Sitting: On Portraiture and Photography co-edited with Karl Bassil, Akram Zaatari and Walid Raad (2002) and Greetings from Beirut co-edited with Anja Lutz (2003). I was art director and member of the editorial board of Zawaya, a periodical on emerging cultural production in the Arab World (Beirut 2001–2007). As a graphic designer, I have worked in publication design and engaged in activist projects. My creative practice has been widely recognized, published and exhibited in different international venues: for example, I was awarded “Un des plus beaux Livres Suisses 2005” ) for the design of Territoire Méditerranée, with Mathieu Christe (Geneva 2004). 

Supervisory Interests

I am interested in supervising research projects in the following areas and their intersections: Middle Eastern studies; visual politics and cultural studies; global art and design history; art and design activism; cultural histories of war and political conflict; anticolonial and anti-imperialist cultures of resistance and solidarity; the Global Sixties.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

External positions

Associate Professor, American University of Beirut

19992016

Keywords

  • D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
  • Middle East
  • global south
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Visual Culture
  • NE Print media
  • NC Drawing Design Illustration
  • graphic design

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Research Output

Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut's Global Sixties

Maasri, Z., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Cambridge University Press. (The Global Middle East)

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored

  • Troubled Geography: Imagining Lebanon in 1960s Tourist Promotion

    Maasri, Z., 2016, Designing Worlds : National Design Histories in the Age of Globalization. Fallan, K. & Lees-Maffei, G. (eds.). Oxford: Berghahn Books, p. 125–140 (Making sense of history).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

    Open Access
    File
  • The Print Culture of Film

    Maasri, Z., 2015, Tonight: Cinema in Lebanon 1929–1979. Abou Jaoude, A. (ed.). Beirut: al-Furat, p. 527–531

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

    Open Access
    File

    Off The Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War

    Maasri, Z., 2009, London: I.B.Tauris.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored

    Activities

    • 8 Invited talk
    • 4 Conference
    • 1 Personal board membership of professional/academic bodies

    Radical Sixties: Aesthetics, Politics and Histories of Solidarity

    Zeina El Maasri (Organiser), Francesca Burke (Member of programme committee), Megha Rajguru (Member of programme committee), Catherine Bergin (Member of programme committee)
    27 Jun 201929 Jun 2019

    Activity: EventsConference

    Draw Me a Revolution: Aesthetics of Solidarity in the Trenches of Arab Hanoi

    Zeina El Maasri (Invited presenter)
    14 Feb 2020

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk

    Anticolonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial - Contesting Political Terms

    Zeina El Maasri (Invited presenter)
    30 Jan 2020

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk

    Cosmopolitan Radicalism: The Visual Politics of Beirut’s Global Sixties

    Zeina El Maasri (Invited presenter)
    19 Nov 2019

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk

    Researching Conflict in the Humanities: Challenges, Practices and Methods

    Zeina El Maasri (Invited presenter)
    4 Apr 2019

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk