Education Policy and Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Societies: Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and Macedonia

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Honored to be quoted in Giuditta Fontana’s book on Education Policy and Power-Sharing in Post-Conflict Societies: Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and Macedonia (Springer, 2016). “Giuditta’s book explores the nexus between education and politics in Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and Macedonia, drawing from an extensive body of original evidence and literature on power-sharing and post-conflict education in these post-conflict societies, as well as the repercussions that emerged from the end of civil war. This book demonstrates that education policy affects the resilience of political settlements by helping reproduce and reinforce the mutually exclusive religious, ethnic, and national communities that participated in conflict and now share political power. Using curricula for subjects—such as history, citizenship education, and languages—and structures like the existence of state-funded separate or common schools, Fontana shows that power-sharing constrains the scope for specific education reforms and offers some suggestions for effective ones to aid political stability and reconciliation after civil wars”.
One of my book chapters on the contributions of the 25-35 Lebanese Age Group in breaking the war’s vicious circle (published in Breaking the Cycle. Civil Wars in Lebanon, ed. By Youssef Choueiri, Center for Lebanese Studies (Oxford University) – Stacey International, London, 2007, p.69-88) was used as a reference (note no.105).
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More information found here.

Les traces invisibles de la guerre du Liban

Le journaliste et chercheur Emmanuel Haddad m’a interviewée à propos de la blogosphère libanaise avant et après les combats de 2006 au Liban, et de la mémoire de la guerre. Voici un passage de l’entrevue publié dans son article ‘Les traces invisibles de la guerre du Liban’ lequel est disponible sur le site Sept.info (plate-forme Suisse de journalisme en ligne qui se concentre sur le fond, l’analyse et le journalisme d’investigation):

“Pamela Chrabieh se souvient du choc provoqué par la guerre de juillet 2006 entre Israël et le Hezbollah: «Bien des personnes, dont moi-même, avions cru pendant un moment que le Liban allait mieux. Mais les combats de 2006 nous ont réveillés en quelque sorte. Nous nous sommes rendu compte de l’ampleur des divisions internes qui perduraient, de l’effet dévastateur de la guerre physique sur les traumatismes et plus encore, de celui de l’oubli du passé ou du manque de mémoire constructive, qui a laissé la place aux mémoires conflictuelles.». Face aux bombardements israéliens de 2006, certains Libanais se montrent résilients. «Cette fois, il fallait absolument témoigner de ce qui se passait avec sons, images et paroles. Il fallait élever la voix, la porter plus loin. Tout ça pour ne pas oublier, pour ne pas devenir les oubliés de l’histoire», analyse Pamela Chrabieh auteure d’un chapitre de livre sur la blogosphère libanaise dans le recueil Mémoires de guerres au Liban, 1975-1990″ [Sous la direction de Franck Mermier et Christophe Varin; Co-édition Actes-Sud / Sindbad – Institut Français du Proche-Orient].

POUR LIRE L’ARTICLE: http://www.sept.info/traces-invisibles-de-guerre-liban-33/

 

Peace Education in Lebanon: A Case Study in the University Context

“Research is meant to be disseminated far and wide and not to be shackled by copyright restrictions that benefit nobody except the coffers of publishing houses” (Mark Bridge)

Announcing the publication of my paper ‘Peace Education in Lebanon: A Case Study in the University Context’ in the refereed International Journal of Arts and Sciences, Volume 8, No. 7, 2015, p. 201-213.

The article may be accessed at http://universitypublications.net/ijas/0807/index.html.

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Pourquoi bloguer?

Mon article paru ce matin dans l’Orient-le-Jour, Beyrouth.

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Je fais partie de ce qu’on nommerait aujourd’hui les dinosaures du blogging libanais. Lorsque j’utilisais le blog pour la première fois entre 2005 et 2006, nous étions une poignée d’internautes qui essayaient de nouvelles plates-formes telle « Blogspot » de Google. Ces années charnières dans l’histoire contemporaine du Liban furent, d’une part, marquées par des assassinats et les combats de 2006 et, d’autre part, par un accès plus facile à l’Internet avec un taux de pénétration en croissance continue. L’été 2006 vit l’explosion de la blogosphère libanaise et la première « bloguerre » mondiale entre les Libanais et les Israéliens. La guerre, la mémoire de la guerre et la construction de la paix faisaient partie des thèmes de choix de la plupart des blogueurs-ses de l’époque, dont moi-même.
Pourtant, la mise en discours de la guerre n’est pas chose nouvelle. Elle a lieu depuis des décennies. Il n’y a qu’à penser aux perspectives de certaines personnalités religieuses, politiques et intellectuelles, ainsi qu’aux productions artistiques dès les années 90, et aux activités de certains organismes non gouvernementaux, d’associations civiles et de groupes de dialogue islamo-chrétien luttant pour la convivialité. Toutefois, après avoir cru à l’existence d’une période qualifiée de « postguerre », mes collègues et moi-même étions rendu compte dès 2005 de l’ampleur des divisions internes lesquelles perduraient, de la guerre psychologique qui alimentait continuellement la guerre physique, et de l’effet dévastateur tant de l’hypomnésie que des mémoires conflictuelles en mode « hypermnésique ». Cette fois, il fallait absolument témoigner de ce qui se passait avec sons, images et paroles, élever la voix et la porter plus loin, pour ne pas oublier et pour ne pas devenir les oubliés de l’histoire. Avec l’été 2006, la mise en mémoire devint une entreprise démocratisée (democratized), diversifiée, exponentielle, voire virale (viral). Les espaces publics comme lieux de médiation entre les pouvoirs étatiques et les citoyens s’élargirent, favorisant une participation beaucoup plus active qu’auparavant, des dynamiques alternatives moins hiérarchisées, une meilleure visibilité aux diverses expressions d’individus et de collectivités, et la construction de liens transnationaux. Avec le blog, les contraintes des médias traditionnels de la censure étaient contournées et de nouveaux modes de sociabilité se mettaient en place pour contribuer à redéfinir la configuration du paysage sociopolitique, religieux et économique.
Dix ans plus tard, la plupart des blogueurs-ses libanais(es) publient des articles aux couleurs et senteurs variées, de la mode à la cuisine, en passant par la politique régionale, les arts et les carnets de voyage, et couplent le blog à Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et Cie. En faisant le tour de la blogosphère locale et diasporique actuelle, dont la plate-forme lebaneseblogs.com laquelle rassemble les blogs les plus en vogue, des « fashionistas » et « food bloggers » aux gourous autoproclamés, on se rend compte qu’il y a plusieurs façons de répondre à la question « Pourquoi bloguer en tant que libanais(es) ? » :
pour influencer, vendre, informer, « réseauter », apprendre, se définir, être vu, communiquer, provoquer, juger… Des fonctions certes de toute actualité virtuelle, mais qu’en est-il de celle du ressouvenir ?
Dans un Liban toujours en guerre, le blog devrait, à mon avis, contribuer à en briser le cercle vicieux, notamment en promouvant la construction de mémoires conviviales. Ces mémoires garantiraient la naissance d’une mémoire nationale sur la base de laquelle l’histoire contemporaine locale serait revisitée et transmise aux futures générations, et l’identité libanaise pourrait enfin passer d’une identité largement en conflit vers une identité « dialogale ». Sans mémoire, pas d’histoire, sans histoire, pas d’identité, et sans identité, la paix ne peut advenir. Le devoir de mémoire est donc de prendre acte que l’histoire du Liban des années 70 et 80 est bien la nôtre, que celle d’avant – remontant à des centaines et milliers d’années – est bien la nôtre, que celle de 2006 est la nôtre, que toutes sortes de crises dont celle des déchets et la crise présidentielle sont les nôtres, et que finalement, toutes se rejoignent avec leur lot de discontinuités et paradoxes, dans ce qu’elles ont de lumineux comme (et surtout) dans leurs aspects les plus sombres.
Le devoir de mémoire sur la toile et notamment sur la blogosphère est plus que jamais crucial pour faire face à la montée des extrémismes et pour établir une meilleure gestion de la diversité au Liban. En fait, le devoir de mémoire devrait être le fer de lance du blogging libanais et des médias sociaux, et tel que le définit le philosophe Paul Ricœur, une sorte de mémoire obligée, une injonction à se souvenir qui ne peut se comprendre que par rapport aux événements horribles auxquels il fait référence, et qui n’a de sens que par rapport à la difficulté ressentie par les individus et les communautés blessés du corps politique, à faire mémoire de ces événements de manière apaisée. Ce devoir de mémoire ne devrait toutefois en aucun cas devenir un culte, être inconditionnellement célébré, conduisant à la subordination du présent au passé, ni l’emporter sur la connaissance explicite et sur la raison qui font la citoyenneté libanaise. Dans cette perspective, bloguer serait équivalent à être témoin de l’histoire, éclairant sa marche, intervenant dans les enjeux de mémoire et contribuant à enrichir la mémoire collective, non à se l’accaparer et l’élever en vérité ultime. Bloguer pour compenser le trop-plein de mémoire (ou pacifier les conflits de mémoire) et ses paradoxes, le devoir d’oubli ou l’amnésie volontaire, le déni et le présentisme.

Dr Pamela CHRABIEH

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SOURCE: L’ORIENT-LE-JOUR (SECTION ‘NOS LECTEURS ONT LA PAROLE’, 15-12-2015)

My ‘Go Home!’ Movie Review

‘Go Home’ by Lebanese director Jihane Chouaib is a powerful statement about the difficulty that many members of the Lebanese diaspora face when they go back to their homeland, with a particular focus on war memory, post-traumatic syndrome disorders and identity crisis. I watched the movie two days ago at the Dubai Film Festival and I had the opportunity of attending the Q&A session that followed the screening.

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‘Go home’ could refer to the Lebanese expression ‘Rja3e 3a baytik’, even if Jihane Chouaib did not choose an Arabic version for the title. This expression first came to my mind when I saw it on the walls of the main character’s house, Nada. It reminded me of the Semitic letter ‘Bet’ or ‘Beth’, the second letter of  Phoenician, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic and Arabic alphabets. This letter’s name means ‘house’. I couldn’t not think of those who are in exile in their homeland, in their own houses, in their rooms – inspired by Mahmoud Darwish’s quote. I couldn’t not think of the millions of immigrants and refugees in and from Lebanon (and the surrounding countries) who had to leave their houses, often with nothing more than a key or a photograph in their pockets – just like Nada.

As I see it, the family house is part of our self-definition, an extension of ourselves. For better or worse, the place where we grew up usually retains an iconic status. Just like Nada, we are engaged in a continuing set of relations with this place – relations that have determinate, mutual affects upon each other because they are part of an interactive system. The attachment to our family house is not only sentimental or nostalgic.  Our house is part of our  identity, our history – individual and collective – with both its glories and dark secrets, and certainly, with our childhood memories.

In this French-Swiss-Belgian-Lebanese Production movie, Nada’s joyful and painful memories intertwine, and in her attempt at discovering her grandfather’s fate, she uncovers the missing aspect of her past and connects with the scars that still linger when people are caught in the vicious cycle of war. More than a geographical concept, her family house constitutes the starting point for her quest, the hub of a family intrigue, the needed memory channel, the ultimate lieu of catharsis, gratification coupled with frustration and adventure with satiation.

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WATCH THE TRAILER 

 

My Peace Education (Japan)

Academic Virtual presentation about my pedagogical approach and my research in three Lebanese universities from 2007 till 2014.

The 7th Asian Conference on Education,

Art Center of Kobe, Kobe, Japan

Wednesday, October 21 – Sunday, October 25, 2015

http://iafor.org/conferences/ace2015/

This virtual presentation is published here:

Conference Programme – View on issuu via a web browser:

http://issuu.com/iafor/docs/ace-acset-aceurs-2015 (p.90/100)

Summary:

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh presents a paper entitled ‘Peace Education in Lebanon: Case Study in the University Context’ with a focus on the results of a qualitative research she conducted from 2007 till 2014 in three Lebanese Universities. Dr. Chrabieh has closely studied the initiatives of many peace activists in Lebanon from 2001 till 2007 and published a book about the subject ‘Voix-es de Paix au Liban’ (Voices/Paths of Peace in Lebanon) in 2008. When she came back from Canada to Lebanon and started teaching at St Josef University in Beirut, Notre Dame University and Holy Spirit University, she expanded her research to include high school students (with another book published in 2009) and 500 university students. This latest research’s progressive results were presented at Oxford-UK, Balamand-Lebanon, Istanbul-Turkey, Dubai-UAE and Rome-Italy. In her virtual presentation, Dr. Chrabieh introduces her audience to her final results, including her students’ visions of war and peace.

“Traumatic experiences of war may never disappear from the minds of many generations of Lebanese, and new wounded memories will be added to the old ones. But my research revealed the importance of creating alternative models of education through unconventional ideas and teaching techniques when it comes to the promotion of empathy, mutual respect and dialogue, as major peacebuilding pillars. Education, as I see it, is first and foremost about learning to be and become better human beings, capable of dealing with our individual and collective war traumas, of embracing our differences and constructing a common history/identity”.

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One Coffee Bean at a Time

I was born and raised in a war zone, where the culture of war prevailed – and still is -, along with sectarianism, State paralysis, militias’ laws, negative media propaganda, hatred, conflictual identities, etc. I spent enough time in shelters or in displacement. I avoided snipers and land mines. I faced the destruction of our houses and the death of family members and friends. One of my favorite games was Harb (war).

When you live in a war zone and you survive it physically, it doesn’t mean you won’t be damaged psychologically. When the bloodshed stops, it doesn’t mean the war ends. Like so many others from my generation, I carry a load of war traumas. According to colleagues of mine (psychologists and psychiatrists), more than 60% of Lebanese developed serious mental illnesses due to PTSD. Their wounded memories and illnesses are transmitted to the new generations, along with what they already inherited from the distant past.

In this chaotic and sick environment, my first oasis was my family. My parents were peace agents when people around us were drowning in the sectarian sea. My father was probably the only one in his village who never accepted to be enrolled in any of the militias or political parties that controlled the areas we used to live in. He continued on being an educator, a school and university professor and became a well-known model of dialogue in the academic sphere. My mother is a lawyer and a feminist. She comes from a feudal background, a Sheikha. But she decided not to use her title in the public sphere. She worked for many years defending women in religious courts and she still has her doors open for abused women from different backgrounds and religious identities.

Over the years spent in Lebanon, then Canada, then back to Lebanon and now the UAE, and short stays in different countries, I found myself exposed to different forms of diversity and learned to live by the rules of different systems of diversity management. I had many experiences and encounters, both negative and positive, that contributed to my journey from war to peace, and to the expansion of my first oasis beyond the family cell.

I chose the most difficult path, to be against the current (Aaks al sayr), away from the common defense mechanisms such as the ostrich attitude, the blank Page and denial (what I call ‘mafichism’). It’s the path of continuous self-transformation in order to contribute to the change of my environment. It’s the path of dealing with one’s traumas, healing one’s wounds and enlarging one’s horizons in the quest for internal peace and peace with others.

I found a parable to illustrate the path I chose:
“A girl was so discouraged by her experiences in school (just like many are discouraged by the current situation in Lebanon) she told her grandmother she wanted to quit. Her grandmother filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. She placed in the first carrots, in the second eggs and the third ground coffee beans. Then she fished the carrots, pulled the eggs out and served the coffee in a cup and asked the girl: Tell we what do you see? “Carrots, eggs and coffee” the girl replied. Then she asked the girl to feel the carrots – she noted that they were soft and mushy. She told her to break an egg, but she couldn’t. It was a hard-boiled egg. She asked her to sip the coffee, which she did and tasted it with its rich aroma. The grandmother then explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each had reacted differently. ‘Which are you?’ the grandmother asked. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong but with pain becomes soft and loses strength? Are you the egg that appears not to change but whose heart is hardened? Or the coffee bean that changes the hot water, the very circumstances that bring the pain, by releasing the fragrance and flavor?

The moral of the parable?
I confess: I am a coffee lover, a coffee addict.
I chose and choose every day, as much as possible, to become a coffee bean.
The environment we find ourselves living in or having to deal with plays a role in the shaping of one’s beliefs and genetics, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. What matters more is how we react to it, how we interpret our experiences and encounters, and when it seems that we can’t change our circumstances, we start by changing ourselves. I truly believe humans are not conditioned; they can alter their situation as well as their genes. Ever heard of brain plasticity? Of gene mutation?

My parents were my first proof that self-transformation and its positive impact are possible. Many individuals in Lebanon and outside Lebanon I encounter prove the possibility of change, and “hope is a pocket of possibilities, we just have to hold it more often in our hands”. Since 2001, my researches have revealed the existence of hundreds of peace agents, including here at the American University in Dubai. To the question I am often asked: ‘so how come we don’t have peace in Lebanon?’ My answer is:
Without those individuals, Lebanon would have disappeared a long time ago.
Old and new war traumas need time to heal and hard work at all levels (non-official and official).
The war’s causes are multiple, both internal and external.

As individuals in our own worlds, maybe we can’t change the external factors, but what we can do is something about the internal ones, especially when it comes to the psychological aspect of the war, the culture of war.
Truly, Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you want to see in the world” is not an ideal, it is a reality. One just has to believe in it, and believe that “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles; it must be taken one step at a time” (Lyndon B. Johnson).


And I will add: one coffee bean at a time.

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My speech
‘Change to induce change’ round table (American University in Dubai, November 18, 2015)
AUD online publications – School of Arts and Sciences, November 22, 2015.

Source: http://www.aud.edu/arts_and_sciences/en/page/4185/one-coffee-bean-at-a-time-dr.-pamela-chrabieh

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