Art et citoyenneté à Beyrouth : atelier Dar al-Kalima (Agenda Culturel)

Cet article est paru dans Agenda Culturel, 18-12-2021

L’Université Dar al-Kalima (Bethléem – Palestine) a organisé un atelier d’art sur l’art et la citoyenneté à l’hôtel Bossa Nova le 16 décembre 2021 en coopération avec l’Association Dar al-Kalima pour les arts et la culture et son programme (nabad.art) au Liban. Cet atelier s’est tenu conjointement avec un second à Amman en coopération avec l’Institut royal d’études religieuses, et un troisième à Gaza. Ces ateliers ont accompagné la 23e conférence internationale de Dar al-Kalima sur l’art et la citoyenneté à Bethléem les 15 et 16 décembre. Cette conférence s’inscrit dans le cadre de la célébration de “Bethléem capitale de la culture arabe”, ainsi que dans la continuité des recommandations de la conférence internationale de l’Université de Dar al-Kalima «Citoyenneté active: vers des sociétés pluralistes au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord».

Les participants à l’atelier de Beyrouth se sont concentrés sur les approches et les pratiques artistiques et culturelles locales et régionales, ont évalué les besoins actuels tels que la démocratisation de l’art, l’art-thérapie, la production locale, la solidarité sociale et la coopération régionale, ont identifié les défis et les obstacles politiques, économiques et sécuritaires, et ont suggéré des voies à suivre pour faire advenir des changements sociaux et politiques à travers l’art.

Les participants, dont des artistes, des universitaires et des activistes, ont présenté diverses méthodologies et stratégies en art social et politique qui prouvent que l’art n’est pas un luxe mais un pilier et un outil essentiels pour construire des sociétés inclusives aux fins du développement durable, “pour assurer l’accès de tous à la justice, et mettre en place, à tous les niveaux, des institutions efficaces, responsables et ouvertes” (objectif de développement durable 16, Nations Unies).

L’atelier inclut en premier l’introduction de Dr Pamela Chrabieh, Présidente de l’Association Dar al-Kalima pour les arts et la culture au Liban, et de Mme Roula Salibi, Vice-Présidente de l’association; suivie par les exposés de Mme Ingrid Khoury (graphiste, Université Dar al-Kalima), Dr. Roula-Maria Dib (Professeure universitaire, poète et fondatrice du Magazine Indelible pour les arts et la culture à Dubai), Mr Cyril Badaoui (chercheur en droit, consultant, activiste, et fondateur et président de l’organisation A+Initiatives et du groupe Achrafieh), Mme Gaia Maria Njeim et Mr. Wael Jupiter Bou Zerdan (membres du groupe culturel Minal Shaab), Dr. Lena Kelekian (artiste-peintre, restauratrice d’icônes, et présidente de l’Association Meadows), l’architecte Hagop Sulahian (co-fondateur de l’Association Meadows), Mme Nada Raphael (artiste, photographe, cinéaste et co-fondatrice du projet social Tourleb), Mme Joelle Sfeir (écrivaine et co-fondatrice de Tourleb), Mme Manar Ali Hassan (artiste multidisciplinaire, graphiste et fondatrice du groupe Let’s talk arts – Lebanon), Mme Joyce Samaha (céramiste et fondatrice de Earthing Ceramics Studio), M. Elie Kesrouani (designer du jeu Wasta, écrivain et fondateur du Onboard Cultural Cafe) et Mme Nadine Mneimneh (créatrice de mode).

Il est à noter que le programme Nabad vise à aider des artistes et des institutions créatives en soutenant les activités et les initiatives locales et régionales, et en créant des réseaux de collaboration. Nabad a pu soutenir plus de 120 artistes et associations au Liban depuis novembre 2020.  

Sans l’art, on tue notre envie de vivre (ici-Beyrouth)

Cet article est paru dans ici-Beyrouth, 4 Dec. 2021

La crise multiforme qui marque le quotidien des Libanais pousse beaucoup à croire que l’art est un luxe et que les droits à la sécurité, au logement, à la nourriture, à l’emploi et à l’électricité devraient être les seules priorités des citoyens et de l’État. Or, les interventions artistiques des dernières années, et notamment depuis octobre 2019, déconstruisent cette croyance et soulignent l’aspect vital de l’art pour toute société, et en particulier la société libanaise.

En effet, la façon dont l’art est intervenu et intervient encore dans l’élaboration d’un projet collectif ou dans l’espace public s’est récemment diversifiée et a acquis de l’importance en tant que stratégie et action citoyennes : concerts véhiculant un message d’unité dans la pluralité et d’engagement citoyen en vue d’une déconfessionnalisation du système socio-politique (Beirut Jam Sessions, Minal Shaab) ; installations publiques dans les rues de villes côtières pour la justice sociale et les droits humains (Haven for Artists) ; graffitis révolutionnaires (Ivan Debs, Spaz, Ring Bridge, Art for Change, Ashekman, Yazan Halwani, REK) ; expositions en ligne alliant artistes émergents et établis suite à l’explosion du port de Beyrouth (arleb.org) ; ateliers de thérapie par l’art (Meadows, A+ Initiatives) ; publications d’ouvrages collectifs sur la préservation de la mémoire et la résistance culturelle (Beyrouth mon amour, 4 août 2020 18h07 ; The Beirut Call : Harnessing Creativity for Change ; Beirut Urban Ruins : Save it on Paper), etc.

Photo prise par Pamela Chrabieh lors d’une intervention artistique par « Haven for Artists » en avril 2021 a Gemmayzeh et Mar Mikhaël

Ces exemples et bien d’autres encore nous rappellent l’importance de l’art puisque celui-ci nous permet de mieux collaborer les uns avec les autres, d’identifier des problèmes et de les résoudre, de gérer les émotions, de guérir les blessures, de favoriser l’écoute, la réflexion, l’imagination, l’observation, le décentrement, le questionnement… et certainement, de construire une société saine. Il est à noter qu’en novembre 2019, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé publiait un rapport reposant sur 900 articles scientifiques qui affirment l’impact bénéfique de l’art sur la santé physique et mentale. D’où l’importance de généraliser les activités et les interventions artistiques au côté des protocoles thérapeutiques en milieu hospitalier, dans l’éducation mais aussi dans la vie de tous les jours pour améliorer le bien-être individuel et collectif.

Par ailleurs, lorsqu’il n’est pas instrumentalisé par des partis politiques ni n’est utilisé pour la propagande étatique, l’art offre des opportunités d’éducation à la citoyenneté et peut, par conséquent, entraîner une prise de conscience en vue de la convivialité. En ce sens, de plus en plus d’académiciens et d’artistes entreprennent des recherches sur l’art et la citoyenneté et forment des réseaux de collaboration locale et régionale tel celui de l’Université Dar al-Kalima. Celui-ci promeut notamment une citoyenneté active et inclusive définie par la participation et non par l’idéologie, et appelle à la pensée et la pratique de l’art comme véhicule de participation pour approfondir les discussions publiques sur les questions civiques et les valeurs fondamentales.

Malheureusement, les défis socio-économiques auxquels se heurtent une large partie d’artistes, d’entreprises créatives et d’organismes s’accumulent au fil des jours au Liban, sans compter l’exacerbation des identités meurtrières, le recul des libertés et la sacralisation de la politique mafieuse. Dans cette perspective, si les lieux de la pensée et de la pratique libres et libératrices – qu’ils soient formels ou non – ne s’élargissent pas, et notamment à travers l’art, il est à craindre que beaucoup de Libanais ne pourront désapprendre ce qu’ils ont appris suite à des décennies de guerre, de népotisme, de corruption, de mauvaise gouvernance, d’autoamnistie, et d’impunité. Désapprendre est un processus et une éducation visant la sortie du système d’exclusion mutuelle, en appliquant l’exercice de la subversion qui n’est nullement une destruction ou un rejet, mais qui essaye de comprendre le pourquoi et le comment des choses, de problématiser le canevas épistémologique articulant chaque discours et expression et d’ouvrir la voie à un engagement citoyen protéiforme inclusif.

Il est ainsi plus que temps de dépasser les frontières dites immuables entre individus et communautés, de sortir des ghettos, d’être à l’écoute des attentes et des aspirations de toutes les composantes de la société, de transformer le regard sur l’autre afin qu’il soit dénué de tout projet d’autojustification et le regard sur soi-même pour qu’il ne se complaise pas dans des poncifs convenus. Et au-delà du survivre ou mourir, il est plus que temps de vivre. Or, en nous privant de l’art, ou en limitant l’accès à l’art, on tue notre envie de vivre, et de là, ce qui fait notre humanité.

SOURCE

Dar al-Kalima organise un atelier sur l’art et la citoyenneté au Liban (L’Orient-le-Jour)

Un plaisir d’organiser cet atelier avec ma collègue Roula Salibi pour Dar al-Kalima. Parution de l’annonce dans l’Orient-le-Jour, 4 décembre 2021.

AGENDA – ÉVÉNEMENT

L’université Dar al-Kalima (Bethléem, Palestine) et l’ONG Dar al-Kalima/programme Nabad (nabad.art) au Liban organisent un atelier d’une journée sur l’art et la citoyenneté, le 16 décembre 2021, à l’hôtel Bossa Nova de Sin el-Fil.

Face à la situation actuelle du pays, il est urgent de définir des projets qui aideront à former des citoyens et citoyennes aptes à vivre ensemble, à se construire une identité unie dans la diversité, de même qu’une société inclusive. En ce sens, l’art et la culture constituent des routes privilégiées. Malheureusement, elles ne sont pas souvent empruntées ou sont qualifiées de secondaires. D’où l’importance de la déconstruction de savoirs sclérosés concernant tant l’art que la citoyenneté, car si l’art a servi et sert encore la propagande politique, il est aussi, comme l’affirme Picasso, « un instrument de guerre » contre la tyrannie. Il est surtout un éveilleur de conscience et une plateforme de choix pour l’éducation à la citoyenneté. L’art fait d’ailleurs éclater les idées reçues : il aide à réconcilier les individus et les communautés, à guérir les blessures aussi. C’est dans cette perspective que se situe l’atelier du 16 décembre courant. Un atelier parmi trois initiatives (Beyrouth, Amman, Gaza) qui accompagnent la 23e conférence internationale de Dar al-Kalima sur l’art et la citoyenneté prévue à Bethléem les 15 et 16 décembre 2021. Avec pour objectif, notamment, de promouvoir l’avènement de sociétés inclusives en Asie du Sud-Ouest.

Plusieurs questions seront abordées par des artistes et des représentants d’entreprises créatives et d’organisations d’art. Comment les initiatives artistiques locales et de la diaspora peuvent-elles avoir un impact plus important compte tenu des défis actuels – crise économique, troubles politiques et injustice sociale ?Quels sont les besoins des individus, des groupes et des associations qui réinventent les notions traditionnelles de création artistique et contribuent au développement de leur société à travers le pouvoir transformateur de leurs capacités artistiques ou par un engagement social proactif ? Et quelles sont les pistes permettant d’aller de l’avant ? Pour plus d’informations, contactez Nabad/Dar al-Kalima au Liban par courriel :

art.nabad@gmail.com

Lire l’article dans l’Orient-le-Jour

Source: https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1283654/dar-al-kalima-organise-un-atelier-sur-lart-et-la-citoyennete-au-liban.html

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.

Can Beirut Recover? Artists Reflect on the August 4th Blast in Lebanon (by Elyssar Press)

August 4th, 2021 marks the one-year commemoration of the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. There are still individuals in need of support who are driving forth relief efforts, as well as elevating the arts in Beirut as one way to demand change and government accountability. 

Today, please consider supporting Lebanese artists by purchasing The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change, a collection from Elyssar Press that features the work of 21 artists, poets, professors, and activists. Proceeds from The Beirut Call help Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.

In addition to revisiting that life-changing day and offering a first-person account, the contributing writers and artists in this anthology explore the theme of how—in the words of professor Dr. Mitri Raheb “art is a necessity” as well as a “political tool.” 

When the Beirut Explosion Happened

In the midst of a global pandemic, 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded on August 4th, 2020. Hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured, traumatized, and impacted by this explosion. To add to the devastation and grief, the explosion could have been avoided—the unstable explosives had been stored unsafely in a port warehouse for six years. The Beirut port blast is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions that has occurred.

Often overlooked in traumatizing events like this explosion, is the role of the arts to center the lives of traumatized individuals, including children and adolescents. Art relief is often sidelined as unnecessary in the face of a disaster. Many individuals, such as Dr. Mitri Raheb of Dar-Al Kalima University, challenge this problematic viewpoint that ignores the complex role of art.

Dr. Raheb explains in the interview for The Beirut Call that “art is important as a political tool in the context of war and a post-traumatic context. It also is really important as a tool to express oneself.” For decades, art has been used to elevate movements for social justice, as protests around the world have demonstrated. Additionally, when entire communities are rattled and devastated, emotional healing via art is vital. No person should have to choose between which basic needs they receive, with the arts being just as essential to short and long-term recovery. 

Can Beirut Recover? Artists Call for Creative Change

Beirut has been called the Paris of the Middle East and right now, this city is experiencing a daily struggle. To meet 21 artists and individuals with their own unique experiences of August 4th, 2020, you can watch the Beirut Call Book Launch, and see how this anthology is just one part of elevating the lives of people directly impacted by the aftermath of the explosion.

Featured artists, activists, academics, and change-makers include 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, with a foreword by Mitri Raheb and an introduction by Pamela Chrabieh.

21 profiles of artists in black and white for The Beirut Call Virtual Book Launch.
21 artists speak to greater hopes, daily life, and demands for change in The Beirut Call Virtual Book Launch. You can learn more or purchase the anthology here.

Support Artists Leading Recovery and Social Justice Efforts in Beirut

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Dr. Mitri Raheb, and Ms. Roula Salibi are largely responsible for making this anthology possible, and for creating a space for individual stories to be heard and shared across the world. When you purchase The Beirut Call, proceeds help Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture as they fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.

The book transcends the borders of Lebanon as contributors address worldwide issues of war, peace, memory, history, identity, creativity, cultural resistance, resilience, artistic activism, human rights, feminism, social justice, intercultural dialogue.

You can learn more about this new anthology and purchase your copy today at: https://elyssarpress.com/books/the-beirut-call-arts-resilience-resistence/.

SOURCE: ELYSSAR PRESS, REDLANDS-CALIFORNIA, USA (AUGUST 3, 2021).

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.▲

Empty Fridges in Lebanon

“My relation to food has never been an easy, rudimentary relation; on the contrary, I have always experienced food as more than food: food as peace and war, exile and belonging, exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism, unity and diversity; food as contradictory emotions, fluid frontiers, interpenetrations, and grey zones. This multilayered experience formed both the conscious and unconscious cornerstone of the Peace Education approach I started to develop when I first taught at the University of Montreal in Canada in 2004. At that time, using food to teach about Religions of the World and Interreligious-Intercultural Dialogue was a novelty. My students were pleasantly surprised and my colleagues intrigued. I developed my food-related activities based on my own experience with food and used my stories and my students’ as my framework. It took me several years, three countries, five universities, and thousands of students to be able to improve the practice, gather data and analyze it, understand its impact and validate or deconstruct the Food Studies theories I became familiar with later on.

This deconstruction-reconstruction is ongoing, but it has become extremely challenging with the multiform crises hitting Lebanon since 2019: political, socio-economic, sanitary (with the Covid-19 pandemic), and the impact of the third-largest non-nuclear blast in the history of mankind. What can our individual and collective relationships with food be when poverty continues to surge — with more than 50% of the population living under the poverty line –, when the currency lost more than 80% of its value, when unemployment has risen to more than 35%, when divisions among Lebanon’s political and sectarian factions are marking our everyday life (including food security), when people fight in supermarkets, and when most fridges have become empty? How can we think of food, and what roles can it play when everything is falling apart?”

(EMPTY Fridges, text and sketch by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, published by Indelible – Dubai).

Source:
https://indeliblelit.com/2021/06/19/art-empty-fridges-by-pamela-chrabieh/

Thank you dear Roula-Maria Dib for the feature and congratulations!! A wonderful issue!

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 in Barnes & Noble

“The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change” is now available in print in Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3oKPayX, in print, in the UK, on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3oIgFsV; and as an ebook on Booktopia, Australia: https://bit.ly/3vhBFJo

It is also available as a hardcover on Amazon, and as an ebook on Kobo.com, Lehmanns.de, Chapters.indigo.ca, and Fnac.com.

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

Proceeds will help Nabad further support artists, small creative enterprises, and arts NGOs in Lebanon. Get your copy and support artists in Lebanon!

Cover photo Nada Raphael

“The View from Lebanon: Dr. Pamela Chrabieh on life, education and the economy today in Beirut” – Interview on Finitoworld.com (London, UK)

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a Lebanese-Canadian scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, writer and consultant. Selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Lebanon (Women Leaders Directory 2013, Smart Center and Women in Front, Beirut), and ‘Most Exceptional Teaching Fellow’ in 2008 (University of Montreal), Dr. Chrabieh won several national and regional prizes in Canada (including Forces Avenir Université de Montréal, Forces Avenir Québec, Prix Lieutenant-Gouverneur du Québec), and her Peace Education ‘Diplomacy of the Dish’ activity was selected as one of the most innovative activities during the Innovation Week of the United Arab Emirates in 2015. Since 2017, Dr. Chrabieh has been the owner and director of Beirut-based SPNC Learning & Communication Expertise, and the Nabad (nabad.art) Program Manager since 2020.

Here, in an important exclusive, she talks to the poet and critic Omar Sabbagh about the current condition of Beirut and Lebanon.

Omar Sabbagh: Whether it may be common knowledge or not, Beirut and Lebanon more generally are currently in a state of crisis.  Can you tell us, to start with, what this crisis situation looks like on the ground?  

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh: Lebanon has been going through a multiform crisis following the so-called end of the 1970s-1980s wars: social, political, environmental, sanitary, etc. The Beirut port blast on August 4, 2020, was the first straw that broke the camel’s back, and the ongoing acute economic crisis the second straw. As poverty is rising – more than 60% of the local population lives now under the extreme poverty line – people are increasingly desperate. Many (those who were able to do so) left the country, others (those who are staying) are trying to survive the financial meltdown, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the political deadlock.

OS: There are many factors that constitute the fraught modern history of Lebanon.  In your view, is the current crisis another version of other crises in the history of modern Lebanon, or is the current situation of a new sort, and why?

PC: In my opinion, the current situation is first the consequence of decades of corruption, physical and psychological wars, state paralysis, nepotism, sectarianism, foreign interferences, and a clash of ignorance. However, and contrary to what we went through during the 1980s – and that I witnessed first hand as being part of the generation of war – what we are going through today is different, as the deterioration of the country is unprecedented. During the 1980s, we were able to escape bombs and snipers and take refuge in a different city or village, we were still able to find food and work, and we had hope for the future. Whereas today looks and feels like a descent into hell, with most of us who still roam the land are hanging by a thread. The level of despair is immeasurable today, and that is, in my opinion, one main difference between the recent past and our present life.

OS: The economy has suffered tremendously in recent years.  Apart from long-standing practices of corruption, there was the revolutionary movement from 2019, and the terrible blast in Summer of 2020.  How would you assess or critique the recent fate and current state of materialwell-being in Lebanon and Beirut?

PC: Lebanon is enduring an acute economic depression, inflation reaching triple digits, and the exchange rate keeps losing value. This is still affecting the population, especially the poor and middle class. I agree with the World Bank statement: “The social impact, which is already dire, could become catastrophic”. I honestly don’t know how long the local population will be able to survive with one of the lowest minimum wages in the world, and when the country’s food prices have become the highest in Southwestern Asia and North Africa. People can’t even find needed medicine or pay a hospital bill. They haven’t been able to access their money in banks since late 2019, and their lights may go off starting May 15 because cash for electricity generation is running out. 

OS: How would you assess the prospects for the young, the student body of Lebanon?  It’s common knowledge that for decades the pool or fund of human capital, of human talent in Lebanon is a kind of superlative supply for what is a nugatory demand, and that there has been for decades a brain-drain from Lebanon to other places.  Are prospects for the young just a continuation of this previous scenario or are there significant differences to the situation now, and how so?

PC: Now more than ever, and given the compounded effect of multiple crises, the Lebanese youth is facing a lack of work opportunities, rising costs of living and unemployment rates, and the absence of any state support. Many are growing disillusioned and desperate, and we are not even at the end of our crises. We should expect worse to come and it is going to be tougher for young people to pursue their higher studies, find a job, or even secure an entry visa elsewhere. 

OS: Lebanon is known for its fractious sectarianism.  Does this feature of the nation’s political, civil, and denominational make-up affect the young today as much as it may have done in decades past?

PC: Most students of mine and other university students, along with countless academics, activists, and artists who have been part of the October 17 ‘revolutionary movements’, have vehemently criticized sectarianism in all its forms and offered alternative paths, ranging from a complete separation between religion and politics to mediatory approaches. This is not a new phenomenon, as many individuals and organizations stood against sectarianism in the last decades, but we are witnessing change within student bodies, especially with secular groups winning elections in some of the most prestigious universities versus traditional sectarian groups.

OSYou have been involved at a grass-roots with the so-called ‘revolutionary’ upheavals in Lebanon and Beirut since they began in late 2019.  How would you characterize the nature of this movement?  And what do you think its effects have been and/or will be on Lebanese politics and thus on the prospects of the up-and-coming generation?

PC: I think it is still too soon to assess the October 17 revolutionary movements. I wrote a while ago that there are many ways of approaching the study of revolution in the contemporary world. According to a narrow definition, “revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system”. In that perspective, revolutionary dynamics in Lebanon appear to several observers (whether anti-revolutionary or skeptics) as “minor disturbances”. According to these ‘experts’, as long as the socio-political and economic systems are “unchanged”, the so-called “hirak (movement) is not worthy to be called “revolution”, and “will soon end” or it just “ended”. However, a different definition of “revolution” – the one I use and develop – makes it appear as an ongoing project of deep confrontation, resistance, deconstruction, reconstruction, and systemic transformation. This project has no start per se, nor a specific end. In other words, Revolution with a big R is a process, and the October 17 revolutionary movements are only but a step towards overturning existing conditions and generating alternative socio-political and economic orders. As I see it, “revolution” in Lebanon isn’t a static object that can either be a “success” or a “failure”. It consists of several current dimensions and historical layers simultaneously, and when it is not roaring in public spaces, it is boiling in the minds, adapting, learning, and bouncing back.

OS: What’s it like being both a teacher and a business woman in today’s climate?  Detail, if you would, how the perspectives of your variegated work-roles have illuminated for you the current state of Lebanon?

PC: I wear several hats: scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, consultant, program manager, wife, daughter, mother, etc. And these hats have been both challenging and rewarding. Definitely, my studies and work experience have helped me shape my knowledge and critical thinking, but my life experiences, with my family, friends, and colleagues, in Lebanon and abroad, have marked my identity and deeply contributed to what I have become today. Most certainly, I haven’t learned about resistance and resilience in books, but through my art, the arts and culture in my country and the region, and through the many struggles I have been going through, as well as the struggles of others around me.

OS: Given your answers to the questions above, what in your view is in store for Lebanon, and why?   

PC: As long as there are inequalities, social injustice, exclusion, oppression, violence, war, etc., and as long as there are possibilities of change, I do not think that revolutionary movements will end. As long as our backs are to the wall and our only way is forward and through our fears, and as long as there are no limitations we choose to impose on our will, imagination, resilience, patience and freedom, we will rise again from under the rubble. 

Photo credit: the opening image was originally posted to Flickr by jiangkeren

INTERVIEW PUBLISHED ON FINITOWORLD.COM (LONDON, UK) – CLICK HERE.