Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality.

Accepted Paper:

Dwelling, magnitude and the magnanimity of life in Beirut  
Samar Kanafani (Ethnography and Knowledge Collective)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between notions of the quality of life (magnanimity), and changing spatial magnitude of domestic and urban space in Beirut-Lebanon, as a way to reveal the conditions of possibility for dwelling in a city undergoing rapid urban renewal and gentrification.

Paper long abstract:

From fieldwork in Beirut, Lebanon, this paper explores how literal and metaphorical notions about the size of domestic and urban space articulate with residents' concerns about prestige and the quality of life in a changing city. I start with focus on people's perceptions of the "old Lebanese houses" (tall ceilings, large rooms, broad staircases, surrounding gardens), which have populated the imagination of cultural heritage but are erstwhile doomed to disappear from urban renewal. I attend to representations of dwelling in such houses as having been more economically plentiful, culturally authentic and affectively generous with their spacious domestic quarters and interspersed urban environments allowing more time and space for meaningful sociality. I understand these expressions as laced with nostalgia, embedded in experiences of socio-economic mobility (upscaling/downscaling/gentrification) and concerns about social status prevailing in Beirut. I situate this discussion within the encompassing urban reconstruction and "growth" that the city has experienced since the early 1980s, which relies on agglomerating smaller and older properties into larger parcels for the construction of new high-rises. Life in these new buildings of varying proportions and standards of luxury are heavily advertised as the penultimate havens of "the good life," while also being exclusive of the majority of the urban population, which is increasingly impoverished and displaced to the suburbs. I ask how a sense of the magnanimity of life is transformed through the emergence of new special magnitudes of dwelling, and what does this say about the conditions that make such dwelling possible.

Panel P006
The government of the house, 'life' and 'the good life'
  Session 1