Statehood & Participation

Articles

In the Box

Article

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

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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

Call for Papers

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

Dossier

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.

Seminar  held 17 April 2014 at Salt Galata in Istanbul, Turkey: "Writing Revolution"  - Voices from Tunis to Damascus with Layla Al Zubaidi, editor of the book and Director of Heinrich Boell Stiftung - South Africa,  Yassin Al Haj Saleh, Samar Yazbek via skype  and Senay Ozden.

Publications

The 2018 campaign of the civil society: Breaking through the sectarian system?

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On the 6th of May 2018 the Lebanese are voting for their parliament for the first time in 9 years. Elections, supposed to be held in 2013 but postponed repeatedly for security concerns, are held under a new electoral law. There is a huge discontentment with the political system and a high level of political apathy. The garbage crisis of 2015 and the municipal elections of 2016 showed that a huge segment of society does not feel adequately represented by the established political parties. This representation issue has a lot to do with the inherent corruption of the ruling political class and their failure to provide basic public services. Due to the discontent, the 2018 election saw an increase in candidates who do not come from the traditional sectarian parties. These civil society groups, who have their roots in previous protests, try to create a new political discourse around secularism, citizenship and pro-human rights. This paper examines the emergence of the these groups.

A White Dress Does(n’t) Cover the Rape. Factors effecting the abolishment of Article 522

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In Lebanon, a rapist could avoid criminal prosecution by marrying their victim. That was until August 16th 2017 when the Lebanese Parliament voted on the abolishment of Article 522. Thereby, Lebanon joins a number of other Arab states. Given that marital rape and underage marriage remain legal, it is a benign step towards the protection of women’s rights only, but a primer.

‘Islamic Feminism’ in Lebanon: Portraying a counter-discourse

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Islam and Feminism, those two words seem like an oxymoron to most people. But it is not to everyone. Starting in the 90's a number of Islamic feminists from different parts of the world took the stage and made their struggle for women‘s emancipation public. This paper delves into the basic concept of Islamic Feminism and attempts to portray the counter-discourse as it is forming in Lebanon.
Ann-Kathrin Steger

The case of Beirut Madinati: How to maintain a wind of change?

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Changing a crooked system from within might seem like a desperate effort, especially when the same political actors had been in power for over 20 years facilitating corruption and clientelism. Yet, it is a task that the civil platform Beirut Madinati took upon itself when they ran in the 2016 Lebanese municipal elections for the Beirut city council. Although they were not able to win a seat due to the Lebanese winner-takes-all electoral system, their high electoral success caused a massive uproar, also among the established political parties. For this research, a series of interviews has been conducted with members of Beirut Madinati in order to assess the reasons for their success, public reactions and considerations for their further proceedings.

The Uphill Battle with a Boulder

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8,331 - is the astonishing number of officially registered civil society organisations in the small state of Lebanon. From HIV prevention over democracy building to environmental protection, almost no topic remains unaddressed. However, from a closer look, the impact yielded by these groups in the compact state in the Middle East often remains somewhat restricted. On the example of gender equality – a topic fervently debated in Lebanon – this paper analyses the internal and external reasons behind this surprising discrepancy and stipulate thought about how to make the Lebanese civil society work more effectively.

Nothing but a demonstration?

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The civil society movement during the garbage crisis in Beirut after July 2015.

When garbage started to pile up in the streets of Beirut in summer 2015, a new wave of civil society protests was initiated in the country. Thousands of Lebanese were protesting in the streets – against the garbage situation, corruption of the government, the failure of electing a president, sectarianism and many more issues connected to the crisis of the state and the waste management. More than half a year later, no final solution for the garbage has been found and the political situation has not changed. It is said that the civil society movement failed to put pressure on the government, but also the regime itself is made responsible for the lack of change. For many people it was hard to follow up with what was happening on the streets during the demonstrations and to understand who the protestors were and which goals they tried to achieve. This paper analyzes the dynamics of the movement and tries to explain why not much has changed so far and if there is any chance for civil society movements in Lebanon in the future.

Perspectives Issue 8 - October 2015

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The fight against corruption in the MENA region has gone through several ups and downs. Prevention, awareness and purification campaigns aiming to eradicate endemic or systemic corruption have had very little impact. The political will and the good intentions formulated in speeches and conferences during the democratic transitions referred to as the “Arab Spring” have hardly born results.

Social Classes and Political Power in Lebanon

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A powerful and undeniable cliché: that Lebanon is a sectarian country, a country of sects. There is no need to set out to prove this. Sectarianism is viewed as a bane and plague, and thus this “bane” becomes the basis of all ills, a plague from which all plagues spring. The existence of classes is often denied because they do not conform to a particular definition of class. In this new study, Professor Fawwaz Traboulsi has investigated more throughly social classes in Lebanon.

Spatial Social Thought: Local Knowledge in Global Science Encounters

In July 2011, hbs and partners held a conference in Beirut on contemporary thought in social sciences in the Arab world, titled “Social Sciences in Arab Countries Facing a Multi-Versalism: Pathways, Challenges and Constraints”. The cooperation World SSH Net , Lebanese Sociology Association, American University of Beirut -(Lebanese Sociology Association), Institut de Recherche pour le développement – France, rendered a number of excellent contributions. With support of hbs, these were edited and translated and now for the first time can be found in a published version. This book, published by Ibidem Verlag, discusses examples of spatially constructed knowledges and the struggles these knowledges en­counter as they seek to meet one another and escape from the mind prison of their spatial contexts. Or does the world social science arena after all only prove that the ‘Western’ dogma of contextualizing social thought is a dead end road for social thought – everywhere?

A sprint turned into a marathon: Take Back the Parliament

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Political systems are always under scrutiny: How well do they serve their purpose? Especially the youth in Lebanon is exploring alternatives, among them "Take Back the Parliament." Researcher Mouna Maaroufi interviewed some of the movement's members to learn more about their ambitions, accomplishments and frustrations.

Democratic Transition in the Middle East

Popular uprisings and revolts across the Arab Middle East have often resulted in a democratic void in power. The book edited by Heinrich boell foundation examines how societies in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Iraq and Lebanon seeks to fill that void, regardless of whether the regime falls or survives.

Walking A Tightrope

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Over the past 15 years, the Arab World has witnessed the rapid development of its news media, raising standards of reporting as well as expectations. With the outbreak of what has become known as the "Arab Spring," the media landscape is again in a heightened state of flux. How far the Arab media have been, and will be, able to contribute to social and political change?

Perspectives #4 November 2012 - Qatar: aspirations and realities

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In the Arab Gulf Region, one political actor, in particular, is becoming more visible, seemingly more engaged in navigating the uncertainties caused by the fast changes emerging in the region and in filling the gaps in this political scene: The state of Qatar. What is the role Qatar is trying to play in the region and is it being translated internally?

Throughout the countries of the Middle East, citizens view the state with suspicion. State institutions are often experienced as biased towards the powerful, corrupt and predatory, and as a sometimes violent means to safeguard the position of a ruling elite, or the domination of one part of the population over others. Participation, on the other hand, is mostly reduced to elections of questionable representational value, or relies on informal channels and structures and primordial relations, and thus reinforces existing patterns of subordination and power. The program Statehood & Participation supports initiatives that demand accountability and due process and encourage citizens to become aware, active and organized around issues of (gender-) democratic participation, freedom of expression and sustainable development.

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