Space, Place and Dreams in Memories and Narratives of Urban Activists in Beirut

Helene Marie Abiraad

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


    In this paper, I explore the agency of urban activists within memorialisation processes and urban changes in Beirut. I look at how, by contesting and reclaiming space and place, urban activists complexify and challenge the ways in which place, history, memory and temporality have been conceptualised in Lebanon.

    The case of Lebanon and Beirut in particular have been theorised and written about in relation to being a case of urban and social segregation along the lines of religious identity. On the other hand, the recent scholarship focusing on memory and history in Lebanon has been centred on the relationship to and consequences of the ‘civil war’ (1975-1990) – Beirut being conceptualised as a ‘post-war city’ or ‘violently divided city’. However, by looking at time and using time as a theoretical lens to look at urban changes, we can see how people are working with time and space together, to create alternatives that go beyond these conceptualisations of both Lebanon and the Lebanese society.

    Based on interviews, observations and empirical material collected during my fieldwork in Beirut, this paper suggests that the dreams and hopes present in urban activists’ narratives bring about new ways of thinking about the presence of ‘the past’ in the present and the future. In a complex physical and political environment, Beiruti urban activists’ desire for a form of better urban life creates precarious and fragile changes. I will explore several examples of urban activism in Beirut and show how these create an alternative sense of place and time that is non-linear. These will show how the narratives of urban segregation and ‘post-war’ city are being challenged by everyday practices on the ground and how these, in turn, shape identity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2019
    EventMémoire(s) et circulation de la Mémoire en Méditerranée - Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
    Duration: 19 Sept 201920 Sept 2019


    ConferenceMémoire(s) et circulation de la Mémoire en Méditerranée
    Internet address


    Dive into the research topics of 'Space, Place and Dreams in Memories and Narratives of Urban Activists in Beirut'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this