Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Environmentalism, enclosure and coastal speculation in Lebanon  
Samuli Lähteenaho (University of Helsinki)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on fieldwork with environmentalists in Lebanon working to protect coastal nature and challenge capital-driven enclosure, this paper examines how environmental futures in the making are fraught with uncertainty yet herald possibilities for political imagination.

Paper Abstract:

Coastal processes of real estate speculation have emerged as central to Lebanon’s real-neoliberal model, which has been so bereft of regulation that it has been described as laissez-tout-faire. The country's coastline has witnessed successive waves of enclosure of coastal areas in the 21st and 22nd centuries. These processes have historical roots in colonialism under the French mandate, and until the 2010’s they have often been uneasy, afforded by gray areas of law and proceeding by exception. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with environmentalists on the Lebanese littoral, this paper asks: why have environmental groups that describe themselves as non-political taken to campaign on issues of urban and public space? What kinds of futures are they crafting through both practices of environmental conservation and contesting coastal real estate development? Against the background of landfilling and development that suture the country's ailing sectarian neoliberalism, this paper focuses on coastal environmentalism as a speculative endeavor. I look at this tense coastal (non)politics through an ethnographic analysis of discordant debates around a public beach in the Lebanese capital Beirut. In the 2000’s conjuncture of social movements and political economy, environmentalists have emerged as prime protagonists in challenging the prevailing mode of governance of the country’s coastline. I argue that such environmentalist futures in the making are fraught with uncertainty yet herald possibilities for political imagination.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -