notes from beirut

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

الفن و الثورة

In worldwide on January 19, 2010 at 7:38

Attended an interesting seminar during the weekend, where former Black Panther Minister of Culture and graphic artist Emory Douglas spoke about his pieces in the context of ‘Art and Revolution’.

Showing us illustrations from the late sixties up til now, he spoke about the situation for black people in the US now and in the past, the work of the Black Panthers, and also how discriminatory practices at home have always been analogous to imperialist policies abroad.

These are two of his latest illustrations, made only last year I think. The first one represents the situation today of a huge over-representation of blacks in prison, and how that can be seen as a continuation of slavery. Quite a powerful image. And the Obama one, no need for further explanation there. Pretty clear.

To see more of his art work and read about him and the Black Panthers, check out what Urbis and MOCA writes about their exhibitions of his images.

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كيف أن تكون إمرة آسوية في لبنان

In Lebanon on January 13, 2010 at 7:38

A must-read piece by Hayeon Lee on how it is to be an Asian woman in Lebanon. Not easy at the moment, unfortunately, as you can tell from her story: prevailing stereotypes about Asian women being either housemaids or prostitutes inform many Lebanese’s attitudes, who not seldom manifests themself as sexual and racial harassment.

What’s encouraging about the article however, is the many comments at the bottom from Lebanese men (and others) feeling ashamed and angry from this behavior. I hope to see more pieces like this, as the whole issue of the treatment and attitudes towards Asian migrant workers is in dire need of serious discussion.

وين الثلج؟

In everyday life, Lebanon on January 13, 2010 at 7:38

Karim left Beirut early this morning, after having been here for five weeks or so. He’s heading back to Sweden and the cold and snowy winter I’ve seen lots of pictures about, but nevertheless feels very distant and surreal as Lebanon is experiencing a very mild winter.

Too mild according to some, especially the ones running the country’s ski resorts in Faraya, the Cedars and Laklouk. The lack of snow in these mountainous resorts is an economic disaster, as Lebanese as well as foreign visitors cancel or postpone their reservations.

Quite a different story in Scandinavia this year, I understand. As far as Beirut goes, it’s already empty without Karim. Woke up this morning and opened the cupboard only to not find his stuff in there.

Hopefully, he’ll start longing for the Levant in no time, and comes back to Beirut soon. Myself, I’ve got three weeks of non stop studying ahead of me now, as the end of the semester draws near and we have lots of work due the next couple of weeks. So, goodbye life, hello library.

Also, if you’re in Beirut today any of you, As’ad AbuKhalil, more known as the Angry Arab, is speaking tonight at seven o’clock about Palestine in the Lebanese context. Will be interesting for sure.

الحمص مرّة ثانية

In Lebanese politics on January 10, 2010 at 7:38

Going from silly to stupid: round III in the Lebanese-Israeli fight over hummus. Apparently the Israelis beat the two months old Lebanese record of making the world’s biggest plate of hummus, triggering a response from the Lebanese minister of tourism Fadi Abboud. Israel should find another name for the dish, says Abboud, as hummus is the name for a Lebanese dish.

Blogs and news media speak of chickpeas replacing bullets in a third war between the countries – drastic language but I guess the analogy is too good not to be made. Lets just hope this dispute stays in the kitchen. Anyhow, I’m sure phone lines to chefs across the country are busy right now, as the Lebanese taking-back of the record probably won’t be long.

السنة الماضية في لبنان

In Lebanon on January 10, 2010 at 7:38

2009 in Lebanon: Now Lebanon! looking back at the past 12 months in the country.

الدولة اللبنانية

In Lebanese politics, Lebanon on January 5, 2010 at 7:38

An interesting piece from Now Lebanon on the bomb that killed two in Haret Hreik, south Beirut, last week. This part of the city is not only the strongholds of Hezbollah, but also largely out of reach of Lebanese authorities. According to a deal with Hezbollah, police have restricted access to the area and are allowed in to investigate routine crime like car theft and robbery only, not incidents like the one on the eve of Ashura. Thus, the police like all Lebanese mainly gets their information from the press.

Now Lebanon also writes about how authorities don’t even have access to updated maps of the area, which was rebuilt by Hezbollah after the 2006 war. The labeling by many of Hezbollah as “a state within the state” for sure seems very accurate in the light of such facts, but it also highlights other crucial issues, like the (absence of) control and strength of the Lebanese state, and, the ever so important future shape Lebanese domestic politics. Recently, both president Michel Suleiman and parliament speaker Nabih Berri, have voiced calls for an abandonment of sectarianism, putting the issue on the table. And with Hariri off to Damascus before Christmas, anything could happen, right?