Planning Beirut for the War Yet to Come
A Crown Seminar with Hiba Bou Akar
Beirut is a city divided. During the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-90, the Green Line demarcated predominantly Christian East Beirut from largely Muslim West Beirut; today, hundreds of lines similarly dissect the city. Post-war urban planning could have brought a different spatial order to the city and its residents, but unclear state structures and outsourced public processes led to a contest between profit-seeking developers and religious-political organizations. In this talk, Hiba Bou Akar examines three locales in the city’s southeastern periphery, revealing how urban planning followed a logic of “the war yet to come” by playing on fears and differences, rumors of war, and paramilitary strategies to organize everyday life. These areas have been developed into frontiers of a continuing sectarian order, in which neighborhoods reproduce poverty, displacement, and urban violence.
Hiba Bou Akar is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University.
Huma Gupta, discussant, is the Neubauer Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center.