About The Project
The project tries to frame the reflection on violence by constructing narratives as a form of everyday life archives. It attempts to write an alternative history of Lebanon, as a possibility of unity, by revealing people’s connected stories, enhancing the understanding of the current and previous crisis, and reducing exacerbated conflict within and between sectarian groups. The knowledge produced will not privilege certain narratives over others, rather it will offer a site of negotiation about people’s visions of the past, present, and future. The importance of archiving multiple forms of violence in Lebanon is that they are intertwined with people’s everyday life lie within the conflicting nature of knowledge production on history and civil war conflicts narratives during the post-war era.
The project tried to frame reflections on the explosion of the port of Beirut, on August 4th, 2020, and to build an archive of the contemporary events as a form of perpetual violence representing Lebanon’s self-destructive history. By continuously repeating itself, violence becomes the foundation for a new condition of destruction. It is intuitively embedded and unthinkably integrated into the daily life of the Lebanese. Therefore, it becomes important to trace it and archive it to flag its connection and imbrication with space, using every day of the city as the main archival register that renders the violence spatial.
Archives, as political technology, are constituted by, and reflect, the concerns of power; therefore, enforcing its “subjective” characteristic. Moving away from the institutional and political notion of archives; the project aimed to uncover the lines of violence and its legacies. Furthermore, it aimed to give a voice to alternative desires and ambitions revealed through moments of contestation and resistance thus archiving them as an efficient resourceful tool. The project’s main concern is to be able to (re)construct moments of struggle and contestation through archiving spatial, contextual, and historical specificities in the form of assembling traces, materials, lines, and events.
The project idea is to be considered as a seed to scope the relevance and the possibility to develop reflections around the imbrications of violence and its archival structures as alternatively a site of silence and a site of the statement, besides the simplistic (re)construct moments of struggle and contestation. It builds on alienating the understanding of violence as a linear production of events and explores it as an intersectional overlapping force (dispossession, explosions, removal, separation, seclusion, excavation, evictions) and lines of delimitations that produce and reproduce complex and often-contradictory spatialities. In this, it becomes essential to address the subject of tracing and archiving violent acts, intersecting different historical timelines of various events. To do so, we have identified and weighted a series of events that have preceded and consequently led to “the big explosion” and afterward opened the door for additional violence in space, or potentially for some kinds of resistance and healing.
The overall objective of the project, therefore, is to capture and construct the trajectories of recent violence in Lebanon (taking the port explosion as day zero & moving backward and forward), by eliciting current practices (institutional, governmental, civil society, etc.), and examine it against individualistic violence narratives using shared personal data (pictures, messages, emails, social media, etc.). By expanding the meaning and imaginaries of archiving as a tool, the constructed narratives will act as “living archives” exposing diversified and shared pasts, intersected presents, and conflicting futures. The project will serve therefore to develop ideas, test the mapping process and new alliances for the development of a bigger proposal, and contribute to the Imagining Future project with some engagement activities on the traces of violence as a cumulative spatial assemblage that inevitably shapes the future of Beirut.