(Re)Construction of the postwar urban space of Beirut
(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
This paper seeks to examine the privatization of reconstruction of the postwar urban space in Beirut and how the market-led rebuilding strategy resulted in the development of perpetual uncertainty. Also, it addresses the strategies Beirutis developed to cope with the changes imposed on their lives.
Paper long abstract:
The aim of postwar reconstruction initiatives in Beirut was to regenerate and promote the capital as "Beirut: an ancient city of the future" (Beirut madina ariqa lil mustaqbal); this slogan was coined as a reconstruction motto. These interventions have largely impacted Beirut's fabric and texture, especially the Beirut Central District. In fact, many critiques and concerns have been voiced by city residents, urban planners, political and religious leaders as well as social scientists. Yet, first and foremost, this urban renewal led to displacement of a large number of inhabitants, many of whom had already been affected by displacement both prior to the civil war (1975-1991) and during wartime. And, in the postwar era they were one more time experiencing this state of anxiety due to their relocation and exclusion from the reconstruction project. This paper intends to discuss how the top-down reconstruction project generated a state of perpetual uncertainty and anxiety among Beirutis, in particular, among thousands of the displaced living in Beirut after the war. Also, it investigates the strategies the city dwellers and the displaced have developed and employed in order to negotiate their role in the renovation project as well as their rights to certain places.
Urban renewal, uncertainty and exclusion (EN)