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

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.

Telos Magazine 1st Annual Meeting

We had our first Telos Magazine annual meeting on Friday, January 15, 2021, gathering distinguished Telos authors and my fellow editorial board members. We shared our thoughts and ideas on current challenges and opportunities in Southwestern Asia and North Africa, and we practically all agreed on the fact that the region needs more than ever a multiform renaissance and that we have an obligation as scholars, intellectuals, authors, artists, activists, academics etc. to create and disseminate platforms of dialogue and actively engage in building inclusive societies.

telosmagazine.org

Crawling Out from Under Rubble: On Becoming Iconoclasts

How and why did we let ourselves be continuously buried under 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 sacralisation that colours 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 (desacralisation) 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 government, we will have to crawl out from under rubble, we will have to desacralise, we will have to become iconoclasts, and by that I mean: we will have to start make 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, boycott 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.

Yet despite these limitations and that of self-enclosure of the Ivory Tower, there are already engaged iconoclast Lebanese academics and artists, and they are making a difference, but more need to engage beyond their classrooms, books, 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.

Text also published by telosmagazine.org

Caravan project of the Order of Malta at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. Intensive course on Interreligious Dialogue in the Middle East.

Glad to be part of this amazing project – – Certificate of Study in the Historical and Religious Reality of the Middle East – “Caravan” Project of the Order of Malta with German students, at the Faculty of Religious Sciences, Saint Joseph University, Beirut-Lebanon, February 2020.

Expertise : Intensive course on Challenges, Opportunities, and Praxis of Interreligious Dialogue
in the Middle East: The Case of Lebanon.

With guest speaker Ms Nada Raphaël
Dabke session – Common cultural heritage in the Levant
Maamoul – Food as a tool of dialogue

Towards Inclusive Societies in the Middle East International Conference in Cyprus

Last preparations for the international conference “Towards Inclusive Societies in the Middle East” in Ayia Napa – Cyprus. Organized by CAFCAW and Dar al Kalima University of Arts and Culture. Oct.31st-Nov. 3rd 2019.

CAFCAW executive committee

CAFCAW Meeting in Jordan: Working for the Renewal of Religious Thought in the Arab World

It’s a wrap! #CAFCAW meeting @Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa, Jordan, January 2019 
CHRISTIAN ACADEMIC FORUM FOR CITIZENSHIP IN THE ARAB WORLD
– FOUNDING MEMBERS/BOARD
لتجديد الفكر والخطاب الديني في العالم العربي وتعزيز الوجود الفعال المسيحي والعمل من أجل مواطنة الوحدة في التنوع وكرامة الإنسان

Dr. Atef Gendy, Dr. Victor Makari, Maya Khadra, Dr. Mitri Raheb, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Mary Mikhael