Archive: Statehood & Participation

Kohl Winter 2018 issue is out!

"Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research" has recently launched its new issue Vol. 4 No. 2 | Winter 2018 under the title "Centralizing Reproductive Justice."

Isn’t Life just a MMORPG*?

The Gaming scene in Lebanon has developed considerably over the past decades. Tanite Chahwan, a MA graduate in English Literature from the American University of Beirut (AUB), has visited some of these places for us.

By Tanite Chahwan

Wigs against the Patriarchy

The queer and drag scene in Lebanon is on the rise. Inga Hofmann shows how this – playful in appearance – at the same time is a deeply political act, claiming the rights of the communities to be recognized.

By Inga Hofmann


How are the Beirut Hippodrome’s races different from the elitist ones of Ascot? Jorn De Cock details how after the civil war they emerged as a rare common ground for people of the most different confessional and social backgrounds to meet. Jorn De Cock, a Belgian writer and historian, details how the Beirut Hippodrome’s horse races are far from an elitist “Ascot of the Middle East”, and after the civil war emerged as a rare common ground for people of the most different confessional and social backgrounds to meet.

By Jorn De Cock

What’s in a Videogame?

Computer games have become an ever more valuable tool for recruitment for armed groups. Ana Maria Luca, a Romanian award winning journalist and currently working with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, analyzes the impact of these means.

By Ana Maria Luca

In the Box

An exchange which occurs whenever I encounter new people goes as follows, ‘But you don’t speak with an Aleppian accent,’ to which I respond, ‘My accent is Christian Aleppian.’ This sums up what I like to term ‘my life in the bubble’ or ‘the box’, a state where sectarian identity takes on specific traits, as particular as the way in which certain letters and words are pronounced. I come from a traditional, middle-class Christian Aleppian family, and for most of my life have lived in the ‘Christian’ neighbourhood of al-Aziziya, where the majority of residents belong to the same sectarian and economic class in Aleppo.

By Marcell Shehwaro

Wigs against the Patriarchy

How the Lebanese Drag Queen scene is fundamentally challenging heteronormative structures and traditional role models despite the legal system and a lacking tolerance of diversity. While social and familial pressures prevent living out one's identity, Drag shows create a platform for individuality, diversity and alternative family structures- because sometimes you have to choose your own family!

By Inga Hofmann

Centralizing Reproductive Justice

Submissions are now open for the joint issue of Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research and The A Project, slated for publication in December 2018.

All you need to know about the Lebanese parliamentary elections

It has been nearly a decade since Lebanese citizens last had the opportunity to go to the polls and cast their votes. The current parliament had been extending its mandate on three separate occasions mainly due to several reasons starting from not agreeing on a new electoral law to the ongoing war in neighboring Syria. Finally, in summer of 2017 a proportional law was agreed on and elections finally will be held on May 6 of this year. With elections approaching we have put together this dossier that would help the voter keep track of everything they need to know about the elections.

Are the Lebanese Happy? Corruption and Resilience in the Light of the Parliamentary Elections

Lebanon, often described as the Paris or Switzerland of the Middle East, and still considered safer and more stable than most Arab surrounding countries, is constantly under threat of falling apart due to its political instability and corrupt politicians. Although many Lebanese have lost their faith in their political leaders, it seems that the politicians themselves are eager to go through with the parliamentary elections. The only plausible explanation is that the politicians are confident that their supporters will eventually give them their votes, perhaps for lack of better alternatives.

By Noor Baalbaki

Sex, Desire, and Intimacy

The sixth issue of Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research, "Sex, Desire, and Intimacy," vol. 3, no. 2 is now Online.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Take on Women’s Rights: Reading between the Lines?

As a religion, Islam is often accused of discriminatory practices towards women. Whether this is true or not cannot be easily determined. On the one hand, there are indeed many verses in Qur’an which assert that women are not equal to men in their human and social status , or in matters of inheritance , court testimony , polygamy, and personal cleanliness . According to Qur’an, on many matters women are not permitted to have a voice - this is particularly the case in sexual relationships. On the other hand, there are other verses in Qur’an which suggest the opposite is true. These verses advocate for equality and harmony between men and women in an Islamic society.

By Wael Sawah

The ‘Female Quota’ in Lebanon: A Temporary Solution to a Chronic Political Problem

Women have long been subjected to political and social marginalization in the Land of the Cedars. Ever since 1952, the year in which women obtained the right to vote in Lebanon, the proportion of women occupying parliamentary seats has remained exceptionally low. Despite frequent assertions by Lebanon’s male politicians that women constitute half of society and therefore are entitled to have a say in the way the country is run, at present their political representation falls far below acceptable limits.

By Walid Hussein

Khadija, do not close the door! - Launch of perspectives #11

The Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East has the pleasure to invite you to the launch of the 11th issue of Perspectives:
“Khadija, do not close the door!” - Women in Peace, in War and in Between
Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 7 pm
Dar El-Nimer for Arts & Culture, Clemenceau, Beirut


Voting irregularities during student elections at universities

Now you can watch a video created by The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) in collaboration with Heinrich Boell Stiftung-Middle East showcasing some common voting irregularities during student elections at universities. The audiovisual was represented through the lens of a college student, who was continuously getting bombarded by campaigners trying to enforce these irregularities on him; namely coercion, intimidation, bribes, harassment, inaccessibility to the polling station, and lack of privacy in the secret ballot.

Civic Charter

Repression of civil society is on the rise all over the world. The charter aims to support civil society organizations as activists throughout the world, to advocate for their rights and freedom of action, and to demand government guarantees.

Bacchus and Bombs

While wandering around in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Luna Ali reflects in four versatile sections on two important stages of her life. People, flavours and places make Luna look back into her past and different worlds of thought.

By Luna Ali

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

Roua Seghaier reviews Angela Davis’ "Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement." She highlights the intersections of history, memory, resistance, and movement building in times of violence. "International solidarity is not only possible, it is already showing signs of its emergence. Davis explains that the Ferguson movement has understood that it does not need the traditional charismatic Black male leadership. Without romanticizing the movement, she explains that agency shall not be limited to leaders, centering collectivity at the core of change instead."

By Roua Seghaier

Beyond the Logic of State Protection: Feminist Self-Defense in Cairo after the January 25 Revolution

In the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution, self-defense tactics became popular against the fear of disorder and the increase of public sexual violence in Cairo. In this article, I examine a number of examples of self-defense invoked by public and private actors after the 2011 Revolution, and differentiate between two types of practices. The first, articulated around the right of legitimate self-defense recognized in the Egyptian penal code, aim to maintain or to restore the established order through the identification of an Other that embodies a threat to the self, property or community. In contrast to this, radical modes of self-defense endeavor to subvert the given order by disrupting the gendered logic of masculinist and state protection and promoting horizontal relations of care and solidarity. Drawing on data generated through interviews with members of the initiative OpAntiSH and the collective WenDo, this article explores the importance of strategies and communities of autonomous self-defense in Egypt in relation to legal and policy measures adopted against sexual harassment by El-Sisi’s regime since 2014.

By Susana Galán

Revisiting Community Organizing and National Liberation in the Saharawi Feminist Politics

This paper examines how Saharawi feminist political praxis shapes community organizing and national liberation politics. I attempt to disrupt the binaries of national liberation and freedom through a reading of the political and temporal context of the engagements of National Union of Saharawi Women feminists in the refugee camps, in Tindouf, Algeria. From ethnographic encounters, the paper aims to challenge the linearity of violence in armed conflict by looking into nuances and politics of feminists who challenge the equation of national liberation as state-building, and simultaneously argue for more just and inclusive forms of organizing for the Saharawi community. This research looks at Saharawi feminist politics and visions for the future that are vigilantly articulated from within militarized institutions and protracted armed conflict.

By Kenza Yousfi

To Be the Daughter of a Lebanese Woman

On the day they removed her name completely from my official papers, my existence was transferred from her “guardianship” to the “guardianship” of my employer, whose name is on my residence card. Struck with fierce bitterness and sadness, I felt as though I had been shattered, like our house. My mother said to me: “It is as though I didn’t give birth to you, or as if I am not Lebanese. It is as though I mean nothing at all.”

By Sahar Mandour

From Ideology to Dogma? A Discussion About Femen, Aliaa Elmahdy and Nudity in the Arab World

Looking at Aliaa Elmahdy’s act of protest through posting naked photos of herself on her blog, this paper studies the debates that followed. I complicate the juxtaposing between Femen’s tactics and Elmahdy’s act of nudity through engaging in questions of feminism/colonialism and feminism/conservatism. By examining articles that were written about Femen, nudity, Muslim women, and body politics, I show that the debates ran the risk of stabilizing feminism within static dogmatic beliefs.


By Maya El Helou

Lebanese hip-hop artists (and everybody else) rapping about corruption

Even though the diversity in Arabic-language hip-hop might make generalizations difficult, journalists seem to find it fairly easy to celebrate the music’s role in the perceived Arab march for Western democratic values. Titles such as “Is hip hop driving the Arab Spring?” from the BBC, and “Palestinians In Lebanon Find A Political Tool In Hip-Hop” from NPR, are indicative of the potential attributed to this musical genre.

By Muneira Hoballah

The Generator Mafia Shatters the Citizens’ Dream in Zahle

For those who take for granted a twenty-four hour supply of electricity, the suffering of the Lebanese may be hard to comprehend. Yet, interruption of power brings about daily suffering in households, not to mention the adverse effect on the environment caused by generators which spread their deadly fumes in densely populated areas.

By Noor Baalbaki

Lebanese mothers give their children life, but not nationality

The Lebanese constitution stipulates that all citizens, male and female, are equal before the law in terms of their rights and duties. Karima Chebbo, who runs the legal unit of the My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family campaign acknowledges that the reality is very different and that the country’s laws contain aspects that are unfair and inequitable, shedding light on the situation of Lebanese mothers married to foreigners being denied the right to pass on their nationality to their families. 

By Maya Jabaei

Timebox Beirut

Please join the artists behind TIMEBOX on a walking tour of the 10 TIMEBOXes around Beirut. 

June 6, 2015
Starting at Saifi Village Ferrari showroom
TIMEBOX is running through October 1st, 2015

TIMEBOX Beirut is an installation by Razan AlSalah and Lotfi AlSalah, produced in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Stiftung - Middle East

The Right to Food Safety: Rights-Based Dialogue as a Springboard towards State-Building

Departing completely from the norm, Abou Faour published lists of actual businesses that have persisted in producing or selling food unfit for consumption. Providing citizens with information that would allow them to avoid threats was the least that the state can do, given that its duty to protect them against such threats was a difficult task in the face of powerful vested interests.

By Nizar Saghieh

The Magic of Beirut

There’s not a city in the world without its own contradictions, dynamism and a spirit which certain visitors can feel, and which it emits for some of its residents to reach out and grasp. But Beirut is a special and unique case. The Lebanese capital, growing ever more densely populated thanks to internal migration and the great Syrian exodus has become the locus for a staggering intensification of these contradictions, dynamics and differences.

By Ziad Majed