Christine Mady
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Beirut’s violence palimpsest
Urban transformations, mnemonic spaces and socio- temporal practices
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This chapter examines the palimpsest of violence that has imprinted Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, for a protracted time period. The palimpsest is used as an investigative tool to unravel the spatiotemporal, interlocking layers of violence. Beirut’s geopolitical position and form of government, along with its history of embedded differences, have resulted in perpetual turmoil, which in 1975 led to the outbreak of the civil war. This fifteen-year long war left tangible and intangible violence markers. On the one hand, the markers manifested at different scales including Greater Beirut, administrative Beirut, but also its districts, sectors, neighbourhoods, streets and buildings. On the other hand, violence scars resurface through collective memory and postmemory, which affect residents’ daily lives while navigating through the city, and making choices of where and how to move. This chapter is an attempt at linking spatiotemporally the violence markers, to investigate their role in Beirut’s history as well as present. It uses chronological mapping of violence events, places and narratives. The violence markers resulted in, or are reflected by, divides and frontiers; urban dynamics including population displacement, destruction and expansion; memories and memorials. The chapter concludes with possibilities for dissociating from violence by emancipating from postmemories, re-establishing links among divided communities through cultural and civic projects, and providing neutral platforms for dialogue. These efforts are crucial in a city where violence remains immanent.

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The spatiality and temporality of urban violence

Histories, rhythms and ruptures

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