Last Out of Beirut Turn off the Light - A Chronicle of Beirut Through its Public Spaces

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Karanouh, Rena
Beirut , Storytelling , Resistence , Public space , Memory , Community
I introduce Beirut as my site of research. Many scholars have designated it as a “divided” city after fifteen years of Civil War (1975-1990). I view my hometown in a different light, where the population might finally be beginning to resist the dominant hegemony. I research public space in Beirut post-war, and how they either fostered cohesion or was exclusionary to reconciliation between the divided societies that reside in the city. I investigate how urban space has been used both to continue the hegemony of the ruling regime, and to become the site of protest and contestation where public space is re-appropriated. Through inhabitants’ narratives and oral histories, I research people’s place memories and how they are associated with certain recollections, histories, longings, and feelings - pre-war, and post-war. This study is a qualitative exploration of everyday life in Beirut, utilizing a multiple method approach with interviews, surveys, maps, participatory observation, personal illustrations and photographs, in conjunction with varied archival material and historical photographs. The research’s main aim is to understand what can be done to change the “divided” narrative of Beirut through its public spaces incorporating the intersecting notions of public space, governmentality, and dissent in Beirut.
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