The Beirut Call: The Strongest Souls Emerge Out of Suffering

Article published on arleb.org

“I am more than honored to be part of an amazing team of contributors whose testimonials, perceptions, narratives, and stories highlight the change-making arts and cultural scene here in Beirut. Together, these academics, poets, artists, activists, and individuals engaged in a wounded city, reveal glimpses of their thinking and doing, offering inspiration for other communities facing wars, crises, instability, and despair—and when negotiating with margins of varied forms. As “border individuals”, “cultural amphibians”, and harnessers of creativity for change, many of the people featured in this anthology have mastered the art and act of crossing borders along textual, political, and cultural margins; they humbly encourage us to challenge carefully guarded territories, deconstruct concepts of unitary, essentialized or monolithic identities, learn lessons from the past, live in the present beyond mere survival, seek justice, engage in dialogue with one another, and gather hope for tomorrow. As Edward Said writes, they are, “responsive to the traveler rather than to the potentate, to the provisional and risky rather than to the habitual, to innovation and experiment rather than the authoritatively given status quo.”

The Beirut Call contributors remind us that humanity is formed in and by the complexities of overlapping territories and intertwined histories. They remind us of the benefits flowing from arts and culture, as these help shape reflective individuals; facilitate greater understanding; increase empathy and respect; promote not only civic behaviors such as voting and volunteering but also viable alternatives to current assumptions; help fuel a broader political imagination; help minority groups to find a voice and express their identity, and help peacebuilding and healing by assisting communities to deal with the sources of trauma and bring about reconciliation. 

All contributions to The Beirut Call inspire us to think about the impacts of arts and culture on cities and urban life, urban regeneration, modes of engagement with cultural activities, tasks that are neither all metropolitan nor all peripheral, and acts in the spirit of initiating dialogue across asymmetrical divides and of peripheralizing centers… They inspire us to deconstruct the internalized status quo and articulate coalitions between differences. They inspire our souls to re-emerge, or as Lebanese-American philosophical essayist, novelist, poet, and artist Gibran Khalil Gibran once wrote: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.

Source: “Out of the Margins: Towards the Rise of Beirut’s Arts and Culture Scene? Introduction to The Beirut Call Anthology” by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, in The Beirut Call, Harnessing Creativity for Change, 2021.


About The Beirut Call:

The Beirut Call is Nabad by Dar al Kalima University project of a book on resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon, featuring artists, poets, authors, activists, and academics testimonials, analyses, narratives, and stories of initiatives for social change.

The Beirut Call brings together individuals who think, do and create to inspire and communicate diverse approaches in facing wars, crises, instability, and despair; people who are turning to the arts and culture as a way to engage audiences through deep and emotional connections to bring about change, and who are imbuing their work with social and political messaging to advance the issues about which they feel most passionate.

The Beirut Call presents diverse perceptions and expressions that speak to Lebanese in their homeland and in the diaspora, but it also transcends the borders of Lebanon as contributors address glocal (local-global) issues — war, peace, memory, history, identity, creativity, cultural resistance, resilience, artistic activism, human rights, feminism, social justice, intercultural dialogue… — which can be discussed in a range of settings such as in schools and universities, arts & culture workshops and learning programs, youth and community centers, women’s groups, NGOs, as well as alternative education programs.

Proceeds will help Nabad continue to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.

Edited Book: THE BEIRUT CALL: HARNESSING CREATIVITY FOR CHANGE.
Editors: Pamela Chrabieh, Roula Salibi.
Publisher: Dar al Kalima University, Bethlehem – Palestine.
Production, Printing, and Distribution: Elyssar Press, Publishing company in Redlands CA.
Date of Publication: April 2021.
Language: English.
Availability: The book is available in Digital Format and Hard Copy with hardcover.

Contributors: Anthony Semaan, Carmen Yahchouchi, Cliff Makhoul, Dorine Potel Darwiche, Faten Yaacoub, Frank Darwiche, Joelle Sfeir, Katia Aoun Hage, Linda Tamim, Loulou Malaeb, Mitri Raheb, Nada Raphael, Nadia Wardeh, Omar Sabbagh, Pamela Chrabieh, Rabih Rached, Reine Abbas, Roula Azar Douglas, Roula-Maria Dib, Roula Salibi, Wadih al-Asmar


CHECK OUT https://elyssarpress.com/the-beirut-call/ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND PURCHASE.

Nabad in Atlantico.fr: Making Changes in the Arts and Culture Scene in Lebanon following the Beirut Port Blast

We are more than pleased to have our Nabad program mentioned by journalist Maya Khadra in Atlantico.fr as one of the change-makers in the arts and culture scene in Lebanon.

Read the article “Un an après l’explosion du port de Beyrouth le Liban entre résilience et crise sans fin” (August 4, 2021) HERE.▲

We had to do something following the Beirut port blast

This summer marks the release of the anthology The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change, a collection [by the Nabad program – Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture] from Elyssar Press that features the work of 21 artists, poets, professors, and activists exploring the theme of art as essential, especially in the wake of disasters.

The virtual book launch, hosted by the Shuffle Collective, celebrates this crucial anthology about resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon. Collectively, the art, poetry, academic testimonials, analyses, narratives, and stories in this work and demand social change.

Below are just a few highlights from this virtual event, which you can watch and leave a comment on our Elyssar Press YouTube channel.

Artists and Academics Speak to Art as Essential

Katia Aoun Hage, the founder of Elyssar Press, opened the reading portion of the book launch with her powerful poem “Beyond the screen in my palm,” where the speaker studies her phone filled “with faces of loved ones” while contacting family during the immediate aftermath of the Beirut port explosion.

Cover image of The Beirut Call shows downtown Lebanon at night with street art and many people near a large church with arches and columns.
You can purchase The Beirut Call now as an e-book or hardcover copy.

After setting the stage, Hage welcomed Dr. Mitri Raheb, who spoke to the role of art immediately following the explosion on August 4th of 2020.

“Staying a spectator was not an option,” Dr. Raheb explained in the book launch, “we had to do something.” At the time, Dr. Raheb was in Palestine, where he is the Founder and President of Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, and he also wrote the foreword in The Beirut Call.

Dr. Raheb, along with Dr. Pamela Chrabieh and Roula Salibi are three key people who made this anthology possible. The team at Elyssar Press could not be more impressed by their dedication to the support essential art. This anthology is a result of that sentiment, with proceeds from The Beirut Call going towards Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture, as a vibrant and critical effort to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.

In the words of Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, from her introduction for the anthology, the “contributions to The Beirut Call inspire us to think about the impacts of arts and culture on cities and urban life […] as well as so many other facets of living.”

At around the 75th minute mark of the book launch, Dr. Chrabieh continued to share powerful words:

“We’re not looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, because we will probably not see that in our lifetime, but at least in our darkest hours, we are surrounded with people who shine—beautiful souls—who are both resistant and resilient.”

-Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, professor & artist

Featured speakers in this book launch also included Anthony Semaan, Carmen Yahchouchi, Cliff Makhoul, Dorine Potel Darwiche, Faten Yaacoub, Frank Darwiche, Joelle Sfeir, Katia Aoun Hage, Linda Tamim, Loulou Malaeb, Nada Raphael, Roula Salibi, Nadia Wardeh, Roula-Maria Dib, Omar Sabbagh, Rabih Rached, Wadih Al-Asmar, Reine Abbas, and Roula Douglas.

21 cropped portraits of the artists, reporters, writers, and professors whose work is in The Beirut Call.

The Beirut Call is a new anthology about resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon. Click the image or here to watch the Book Launch.

(…)

SOURCE: ELYSSAR PRESS, June 22, 2021. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Beirut Call Hardcover is now on Amazon

Proud to announce that “The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change” anthology hardcover is now available on Amazon, and as an ebook on Kobo.com, Lehmanns.de, Chapters.indigo.ca, and Fnac.com. Proceeds will help Nabad further support artists, small creative enterprises, and arts NGOs in Lebanon.

AMAZON.COM:https://amzn.to/3bEKoxD

KOBO.COM:https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-beirut-call

FNAC.COM:https://tinyurl.com/tduzrmvh

CHAPTERS.INDIGO.CA:https://tinyurl.com/453wh6vf

LEHMANNS.DE:https://tinyurl.com/yj33y9c6

Editors: Pamela Chrabieh and Roula Salibi.

Contributors: Mitri Raheb, Pamela Chrabieh, Roula Salibi, Joelle Sfeir, Nada Raphael, Roula-Maria Dib, Roula Azar Douglas, Loulou Malaeb, Wadih Al-Asmar, Rabih Rached, Carmen Yahchouchi, Anthony Semaan, Omar Sabbagh, Nadia Wardeh, Katia Aoun Hage, Linda Tamim, Faten Yaacoub, Reine Abbas, Frank Darwiche, Dorine Potel, Cliff Makhoul.

Publisher: Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture.

Production/Distribution: Elyssar Press (Redlands, CA-USA).

Cover photo Nada Raphael.

Follow us on Instagram @nabad.art, @elyssarpress, on Facebook @nabad.art @thebeirutcall⁠ or go to https://elyssarpress.com/the-beirut-call/ for more information.

Get your copy today and support artists in Lebanon!!

The Beirut Call Anthology is now Available on Lehmanns.de, Chapters.Indigo.ca and Fnac.com

THE BEIRUT CALL ebook is now available on Lehmanns.de! Get your digital copy today! ⁠https://tinyurl.com/yj33y9c6

Also on Chapters.Indigo.ca! https://tinyurl.com/453wh6vf

and on FNAC.COM! https://tinyurl.com/tduzrmvh

Follow us on Facebook @thebeirutcall.⁠@daralkalimauniversity, @nabad.art⁠

Photo credit: @nada.raphael⁠

The Beirut Call Anthology: Virtual Book Launch on May 9th 2021

“THE BEIRUT CALL…Harnessing Creativity for Change!”⁠ is a new anthology in collaboration with @daralkalimauniversity, its program @nabad.art and @elyssarpress, a publishing press in Redlands, CA.
Support our Lebanese artists and arts organizations!
Follow us @elyssarpress, on facebook @thebeirutcall⁠ or go to elyssarpress/the-beirut-call/ for more information.
VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH is set for Sunday May 9, 2021 at 10am PST (1pm EST), 8pm Lebanon Time, 6pm UK time, 9pm Dubai time. Sign up here for the event: https://fb.me/e/1XYDoqyim
Video Trailer by 5d Studios (5dstudios.org)⁠
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Repost Elyssar Press
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#nabad #nabad.art #Dar_alKalima_University #elyssarpress #thebeirutcall

Crawling Out from Under the Rubble: On Becoming Iconoclasts

How and why did we let ourselves be continuously buried under the rubble? Without implicating ourselves in entrenching the Orientalist caricatures of Southwestern Asian societies as incapable of self-government, there are questions to be asked about quietist and conformist tendencies, about the ostrich-like behavior, and the zombie attitude. These questions do not lend themselves to easy answers. But engaging with them may facilitate critical assessment of the prospects for sustainable change.
According to Patricio Aylwin Azocar: “Ordinary men and women may often feel unmotivated to exert their citizenship, either because they cannot tell the difference between the different alternatives, or because they have lost faith in the political classes, or because they feel that the really important issues are not in their power to decide”. As for the well-known poet Adonis, he reproaches the deification of the political party, the ideology, and the community – Adonis opposes the sacralization that colors and creeps into politics, turning parliamentarians, ministers, and other public servants into demi-gods, their ideologies into gospels and political parties into quasi-sects.
Indeed, over the past decades, the legacy of multiple wars in Lebanon, including hypermnesia, and paradoxically the tabula rasa mentality and strategy, have produced in the minds of a good many Lebanese the illusion that somehow “somebody” – the warlord, the zaim, the political party, the sectarian community/belonging – but not the State (or the embodiment of the common management of our diversity), can provide for ALL needs, so why make much effort to fulfill what used to be considered in practice (or are considered in the Constitution) the responsibilities of any citizen?
As Larbi Sadiki describes Adonis in The Search for Arab Democracy, he is in all of this “an iconoclast”. “His predilection is for fluidity, plurality, and provisionalism”. The icons of Lebanese politics have all cultivated and entrenched political iconolatry, and that iconolatry has been internalized by many Lebanese, thus has weakened the case for citizenship. Adonis’s iconoclasm (desacralization) seems therefore justified, but in my opinion, when it comes to the Lebanese case, iconoclasm is not a generalized rebellion which will not take place given local divisions – and let us not forget the chaotic outcome of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in most countries where it occurred -, but a change-making process located in multiple local and diasporic social-political struggles already taking place.
Agents of dialogue, non-governmental organizations, academics, and activists have been trying their best, especially since the 1990s (and before), to raise awareness about the necessity of reforming the social-political system and of finding solutions to numerous crises such as the economic, environmental, cultural,…; crises of paradigms, identities, difference, indifference, intolerance, belligerence, ignorance, oppression, fanaticism, and of missionary zeal. However, if we want to shift from subjection, autocracy, blind faith, absolutism, fixity, non-participatory polity, and “denizenship” to citizenship and good governance, we will have to crawl out from under the rubble, we will have to desacralize, we will have to become iconoclasts, and by that I mean: we will have to start making use of the energy and creativity of all these agents and encourage new initiatives, to serve our society (and continue on serving) even from afar (Lebanese living in diaspora) while continuing our primary missions, to pull up the stories of people who have been silenced, to harness solidarity into forms of actions that would contribute to the change-making process in an efficient manner, and to redirect the substantial energy of our frustration – when our streets and lives are vanishing under piles of glass, debris and garbage – and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.
“If beyond hopelessness there is hope, I am hopeful” (Elias Khoury). And I am calling on my fellow academics and artists to further publicize/disseminate their knowledge as a catalyst for social-political change, to share and continue to share the myriad ways they use their expertise to expand public discourse and promote social justice, human rights, peacebuilding, and alternative diversity management approaches. Intellectual activism or public sociology – or social justice education/ peace education – is an important form of activism that should accompany street protests, boycotts, and demonstrations. It is about the democratization of knowledge, about facilitating other forms of activism by giving people data, symbols, and paradigms they can reference to back up their positions on social and political issues (as Popkewitz and others have noted, “Knowledge provides the principles through which options are made available, problems defined, and solutions considered as acceptable and effective”), by fostering dialogue and constructive criticism. It is about stepping out of the office and putting the accumulated research to use. It is about ‘being academic and artist’ as a social role, not just a job, especially when the silence of many maintains injustice, which it frequently does.
True that academia and the arts do more than influence society, they are also shaped by it, they reflect the antagonisms and reproduce them, they are contested sites where various agendas and desires are promoted and through which power circulates to produce and legitimate certain kinds of knowledge, experience and ways of knowing, but academia — and some aspects of artistic production — in Lebanon is also inherently an elitist hierarchical structure and most academics/artists are worried about keeping their jobs, getting tenure and selling their artworks. Furthermore, as Henry Giroux notes, “Neoliberalism assaulted all things public, sabotaged the basic contradiction between democratic values and market fundamentalism (…), it also weakened any viable notion of political agency by offering no language capable of connecting private considerations to public issues…As democratic values give way to commercial values, intellectual ambitions are often reduced to an instrument of the entrepreneurial self, and social visions are dismissed as hopelessly out of date”.

Yet despite these limitations and that of self-enclosure of the Ivory Tower, there are already engaged Lebanese academics and artists, iconoclasts, and they are making a difference, but more need to engage beyond their classrooms, books and academic journals, and ‘ateliers’, to be in the act of researching people, themselves, the dynamics of oppression and the politics of social interactions and injustices, to become aware of the people’s often unknowingly complicit in the process of oppression, to create knowledge in and through meaningful participation and action with others, to bring people together and contribute to finding reasons of solidarity, to transform boundaries into spaces where lives and pedagogies are constructed together in ways that work for social justice and lead to powerful possibilities, and where dialogic and open-ended praxis based on more collaborative and caring relationships is promoted.

*A text by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh — published on August 16, 2020, republished on April 13, 2021.

Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture Interreligious Dialogue Regional Curriculum in the Arab World – March 26, 2021 Webinar

We were honored to discuss our course outline Dr. Nadia Wardeh and I with our esteemed colleagues in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Qatar. Higher education in Southwestern Asia is in need of innovative regional curricula that promote dialogue towards conviviality and inclusive societies.

Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture March 26, 2021 Webinar.

Upcoming Anthology “The Beirut Call. Harnessing Creativity for Change”

Dear colleagues and friends, kindly spread the word about our upcoming anthology. “The Beirut Call. Harnessing Creativity for Change” presents diverse perceptions and expressions that speak to Lebanese in their homeland and in the diaspora, and it also transcends the borders of Lebanon as contributors address glocal issues—war, peace, memory, history, identity, creativity, cultural resistance, resilience, artistic activism, human rights, feminism, social justice, intercultural dialogue…—which can be discussed in a range of settings such as in schools and universities, arts & culture workshops and learning programs, youth and community centers, women’s groups, NGOs, as well as alternative education programs.

Proceeds will help Nabad continue to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.


A special thank you to Elyssar Press, Dar Al-kalima University College of Arts and Culture, and our anthology’s esteemed contributors: Mitri Raheb Roula Salibi Joelle Sfeir Nada Raphael Roula-Maria Dib Roula Azar Douglas. Loulou Malaeb Wadih AL-ASMAR Rabih Rached Carmen Yahchouchi Anthony Semaan Omar Sabbagh Nadia Wardeh Katia AH Linda Tamim Faten Yaacoub Reine Abbas Frank Darwiche Dorine Potel Cliff Makhoul


Nabad
The Beirut Call cover photo credit Nada Raphael