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Cubebot checks out the Beirut Madinati campaign for the municipal elections in Lebanon.

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.

Photo: Djizeus. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

Statehood & Participation

When women in the Middle East make the headlines, it is usually as victims. Disturbing stories of the so called 'Islamic State' (ISIS) kidnapping and raping tens of thousands of women are sadly often the ones which stick in the Western memory. But there is more to women's political lives in the region than their victimisation and oppression. We decided to look to the future, present and past in this issue, in order to present an alternative narrative which challenges these representations of women.

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.

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.

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.

Architectural standards recreate gender, racial and class hierarchies, just as local cultural productions reinforce specific notions of women-as-space.

Perspectives issue 7 Cover - illustration by Mazen Kerbaj

Rumour has it ... the new Perspectives is out!

They are only 'hot air' but anyone who has been affected by rumours is familiar with their unhallowed dynamics, and the serious consequences they can entail. Rumours fulfil social functions. They serve as a medium through which unfulfilled hopes or unspecific fears can be voiced. They bond and drive a wedge between people and population groups at the same time. They can destroy reputations, credibility and even lives. Read here twelve experts from the MENA region discussing the topic!

Cover Transitional Justice

In post-war periods and in the aftermath of serious, systematic human rights violations, gender-based forms of violence are usually forgotten during the processing of the past and reconciliation phase. This study details these problems and presents the resulting challenges facing politicians and society.

Cover of the study "Social Classes and Political Power  in Lebanon" by Fawwaz Traboulsi

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.

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?

"Dear Lebanon" a Heinrich Boell supported documentary film offering a teenage perspective of bombings, religion and politics in Lebanon. the film is writen and directed by Raphael Schanz and the teenager’s team: Gassia Shadarevian, Ghida Ladkani, Majd Gharzeddine, Marwan Sakr, Mohamad Bsat, Navia Ghawi, Naye Idriss and Omar EI-Salhan.

The cover of the research paper "A sprint turned into a marathon: Take Back the Parliament".

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.

Sadly, the Middle East has witnessed some of the largest mass displacements of people worldwide over the past decade. As it currently stands, millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes, moving within the country and sometimes far outside of it. Not surprisingly, neighboring states have absorbed most of these people and have managed well under the circumstances. However, the question of how to deal with the waves of those who have lost everything and might not be able to go back in the near future is a huge challenge for the refugees and for host communities, especially since there is no settlement on the horizon.

Issue #5 of Perspectives provides space for on-the-ground analysis by Palestinian writers, thinkers and politicians of very different backgrounds in order to explore the Oslo Accords 20 years after their signing from a Palestinian perspective. Perspectives is a quarterly journal dedicated to highlighting research and debate from authors who mostly live and work in the region. It is jointly edited and published by the three HBS offices located in Tunis, Beirut and Ramallah.

Writing revolution, a book published by hbs Beirut and I.B.Tauris, is a collection of some of the best new writing born out of the Arab Spring Translated mostly from the Arabic, it has been awarded a 2013 Prize from English PEN for Outstanding Writing in Translation and was launched on May 29th at the Mosaic Room London.

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.

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?

Cover of Perspectives issue 4

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?

Narrating Beirut from its Borderlines is a collection of four small research studies that examine a number of the physical and immaterial borderlines that have come to define the contemporary geography of Beirut and its peripheries since 2005.

It is almost a year ago that Syrian citizens, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, courageously took to the streets in protest against the decades-long denial of their basic rights by the Assad regime.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation presents some of its experiences -- both setbacks and successes -- in the promotion of gender democracy. It is just a small sample of HBS' work all over the world. HBS is very much aware that its political and financial contributions are often only part of a larger network; yet its work does make a difference – for more gender justice.

“Cases of Femicide before Lebanese Courts” is a study that sheds light on some of the crimes committed against women and girls within the context of the family structure and its relations in Lebanon.

The self-immolation of young and jobless Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, being deprived of his vegetable stand and humiliated by the authorities, triggered popular movements and historic events in the Arab World completely unexpected in their magnitude…

In the first edition of Perspectives Middle East, activists and decision-makers from the Arab world and Europe critically discuss the transfer and use of civilian nuclear energy in the region.

This study aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of censorship in Lebanon which will hopefully allow the many local artistic and cultural actors the opportunity to lobby for the most appropriate legislative amendments to the current censorship regulations which are currently not conducive to their work.

What does the political participation of women look like within the immense diversity of the Arabic world? This edition of the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s series on Democracy analyzes the historical and current developments of gender relationships, and the role of women in the politics of Egypt, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

A publication by offline:events in collaboration with independent Iraqi artists, filmmakers, and authors documenting the lives of Iraqis navigating the space between home and exile and lending Iraqi refugees and those living in exile a voice to express their realities and reflections inter alia on notions such as Homeland and Exile, East and West, and Identity

Major cities worldwide are caught in a whirlwind of change that is turning urban spaces into strategic sites where history is being rewritten. Migration, civil society and an array of national and transnational players are transforming assumptions about citizenship in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. From the slums of Mumbai to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, from the skyscrapers of Dubai to urbanizing Palestinian refugee camps, the new cities are altering the answers to one of mankind's oldest questions: where do I belong?

From 1975 to 1990, different factions in Lebanon’s civil conflict flooded the streets with posters to mobilize their constituencies, undermine their enemies, and create public sympathy for their cause. This is how the military performance on the front lines and on demarcation lines was in junction with another kind of conflict rotating around the image and words and the symbolic claiming of territory and land.

Homosexuality is a subject that induced the persecution of a lot of individuals and the shed of their blood.

The situation in Lebanon is not as dangerous as in other countries in the Arab world for those individuals whose sexual orientation does not comply with that of the majority, but it is not less serious. Threats of death, humiliations, blackmails, attacks, marginalization, discriminations, rejections, depressions, suicide attempts, shame, guilt, emotional life ruined, isolation, are in great majority the load of the openly or clandestinely homosexual persons living in homophobic societies.

EEM launched in 2009 the book “Bareed Mista3jil”: a collection of 40 true stories from voices in Lebanon that we seldom hear. Their common thread is that they are all from persons of non-conforming sexualities and gender identities, the life of queer women and transgender in Lebanon.

Conflict & International Politics

The Heinrich Boell Foundation and the 10/11 collective are happy to present to you two book publications by Syrian contemporary authors:

“Abu Jurgen, the German Ambassador and I”, a grotesque episodic novel - with magical powers* - by Assaf Alassaf, and “The invention of German”, a surreal and funny collection of short stories by Rasha Abbas

When ISIS announced the establishment of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ it fuelled discussions as to whether this would herald the ‘end of Sykes-Picot’ – borders artificially drawn by the colonial powers at the beginning of the twentieth century. But borders are more than ‘lines in the sand’: they divide. While the privileged few may cross legitimately by simply presenting their passport, for most, these borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. People fleeing from war, climate change or economic hardship, attempt to cross the Mediterranean but many drown trying.

The dilemma faced by the EU in its search for an effective policy with Lebanon

The European Union is compelled to define its role in Lebanon anew and needs to disperse tensions within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Is the policy’s focal point to be shared values or stability? Active policy development or non-interference? Perspectives unearthed through fieldwork in Lebanon.

Conclusions and Policy Recommendations based on the Böll Lunch Debate ‘The Situation of Syrian Refugees in the Neighbouring Countries: What Role Should the European Union Play?’ organised by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union in cooperation with IKV Pax Christi on 27 November 2013.

Cover of "Transitional Justice in Syria"

This publication addresses one issue that is inextricably linked to establishing sustainable peace: transitional justice. A stable and sustainable peace in Syria, governed by the rule of law, requires a comprehensive justice and accountability process to defeat the culture of impunity that has allowed violations to go unchallenged for decades. This publication is the result of a cooperation between Dawlaty and No Peace Without Justice. It has been produced in part with the financial assistance of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) MENA- Beirut. The book is also available in Arabic at dawlaty.org.

 

 

One of the most important focal points of overlapping and competing interests of both established and emerging powers is the Middle East. This region is an arena where the new rules of the game are being developed and acted out. This publication attempts looking at the effects of the global shift of power on the Middle East to explore the perspectives of the region to become a partner in an emerging multi-polar system, rather than a stomping ground or even a battlefield for the interest and the prestige of others. 

With contributions by Azmi Bishara, Parag Khanna, Hermann Schwengel, Vitaly Naumkin, Ibrahim Saif, Yasmeen Tabaa, Sven Behrendt, Mingjiang LI, Praful Bidwai, Ziad Abdel Samad, and Kinda Mohamadieh.

 As the six-year transitional period defined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement draws to a close, Sudan is sliding into another crisis. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, which has been working both with civil society partners in Sudan and on Sudan-related issues in the German context for several years, has put together this publication in order to reflect on such scenarios.

With contributions by Alex de Waal, Atta El-Battahani, Marina Peter, John Yoh, Roland Marchal, and Peter Schumann.

No history of the Lebanese civil war can ever be complete if it fails to explain why ordinary Lebanese chose to fight and how they perceive the actions they took during the war. With that in mind, this work has attempted to identify and elucidate some of the many factors that compelled Lebanese to enter the fray.

'Unpacking the Dynamics of Communal Tensions: A Focus Group Analysis of Perceptions among Youth in Lebanon' is a pilot study on a prevailing trend in Western Asia, namely communal tensions. The study aims to dismantle the dynamics of communal tensions through a focus group analysis that targets the largest segment of the Arab population: youth between the ages of 18 and 25. Lebanon is used as a case study to steer the debate and increase the understanding of the factors fermenting communal tensions that are the root causes of conflict.

 

This publication describes a new start of cooperation between Europe, the United States, and regional partners in the Middle East to tackle the challenges in Iraq and to help bring peace, stability, and sustainable development to the wider region.

With contributions by Layla Al Zubaidi, Bülent Aras, Megan Chabalowski, Richard Gowan, Faleh Jabar, Daniel Korski, Sami Moubayed, Daniel Serwer, and Heiko Wimmen

How to restore the credibility of a country whose foundations and self-understanding are based on the universality of freedom and human rights, but that has violated precisely those rights by practicing torture in Guantánamo and other prisons around the world?

Environmental Justice

The Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) region, faced with tumultuous changes in the last five years, shows a picture of shrinking spaces for civil society activism. In contrast, ecological activism is growing and connecting the fight for climate justice to other demands for community and indigenous rights, gender equality, democracy and transparency.

The central question for us, therefore, is how the use of natural resources needs to be organized so as to respect the ecological limits of our world and, at the same time, strengthen human rights and democracy. In order to capture the diversity of regional perspectives on this question, we have conducted an international dialogue process entitled «Resource Equity in a Finite World» which sought to harness the knowledge and experience of young people in particular, both in our partner countries and in Germany and Europe.

Through misuse, we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil every year. For the International Year of Soils in 2015, this Atlas shows, why the soil should concern us all. Jointly published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.

The publication sheds light on the impacts of meat and dairy production, and aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming.

Cover of "The Green Economy – The New Magic Bullet?"

Exactly what a green economy is and should be, and with what measures and instruments it should be implemented, has not yet been defined and is the topic of intense political debate. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to develop a “Green Economy Roadmap.” Rio+20 should not simply be a repetition of previous international conferences. Instead it must offer a true breakthrough on the path to a social, just, low-carbon and resource-efficient world.

This study highlights how the climate change regime and the human rights regime addressing the right to food have failed to coordinate their agendas and to collaborate to each other’s mutual benefit. It proposes concrete methods by which institutions can address climate change problems and realize the right to food symbiotically, in compliance with the principles of systemic integration under international law.

Half of the world's population lives in cities. This publication gathers the answers of selected experts to the challenges of sustainable urban planing and architecture.

This conference was held on November 2-3, 2007 and tackled the darker side of the environment-conflict-nexus, but also the opportunities for find common ground over environmental issues.

The myth of nuclear power keeps persevering. Therefore the Heinrich Böll Foundation has commissioned renowned international nuclear experts to deliver detailed facts central to the myths of nuclear energy. This overview provides the public with a current, facts rich and nuclear-critical know-how.

This book, written by a woman of the Bedouin community in the Lebanese Bekaa valley, is a compendium of some of the Bedouin tales (Sawalef) orally transmitted in the Abu Eid community. The tales are recounted in Bedouin dialect. By making public some of the oral history of that community, the books sheds light on the life of the marginalized Bedouins of Lebanon.

Bada’el is a Lebanese environmental magazine published by the Lebanese Association Ecologia. With the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, an issue of Badae’l on “Health, Epidemics and Climate Change” will be released in September 2010.

Since the early 1990s, Beirut’s Park, Horsh Al-Sanawbar, was sealed off from the lives of many Beiruti residents and visitors, with numerous justifications for their exclusion. At the Edge of the City aspires to chart an alternative discourse from that which produces this exclusion. Through exploring issues of advocacy and politics, the book aims to provide a platform to contest the existing governance of Horsh Al-Sanawbar and to bring forward a well-informed public space policy agenda. Published by DISCURSIVE FORMATIONS with the support of Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Middle East Office

Within the Workshop "Food Sovereignty vs. Free Trade, Towards an Alternative Multilateral Agricultural Governance Framework" organized by the Green Line Association, the launching of the Arabic version of the "Slow Trade - Sound Farming: A Multilateral Framework for Sustainable Markets in Agriculture", will take place. This publication was developed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and MISEREOR.

Culture & Dialogue

Cover of the paper "Against all odds?

Comics, Hip-Hop, paintings, poems or festivals. What effect can art have on a society? How do artists interact with lebanese society and what problems do they face? Artists give insights to structures, aims and problems of the Beirut art scene.

Cover of the book "Anywhere But Now"

This publication derives its title from a three-day symposium held in Beirut in April 2009, which brought together scholars, writers, filmmakers and artists to explore questions around landscapes of belonging. "Anywhere but Now" assembles diverse desires for elsewhere. It is a compilation of apart-ness, a chronicle of ruptures, violence and yearning, through time and across geographies.

The latest volume of collected articles and essays published by Bahithat (The Lebanese Association of Women Researchers) analyzes and contextualizes contemporary cultural practices and forms of entertainment applied by young people (aged 15 – 24 years) in several Arab countries and in the Diaspora.

Children’s literature in Lebanon nowadays is characterized by its dynamic development which shows through different traditional and contemporary narrations. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors that prevent the development of innovative children’s literature such as a lack of analytical studies, its quality, the absence of not modern issues (such as gender, conflict, environmental issues etc), and a lack of opportunities to exchange different experiences on the local, regional or international levels.

The report is a documentation of a regional conference "Freedom of Expression in Music", that was held in Beirut from 7 to 8 October 2005, in collaboration with Freemuse - World Forum on Music and Censorship and Irab-Arabic Association for Music.

In engaging with the richly varied and seminal scholarship of Edward Said, Waiting for the Barbarians aims to recover the notion of culture as a collective, hybrid and plural experience, inlight of the political imperative that rules our present. In bringing together some of the figures most closely associated with Said and his scholarship, this comprehensive volume looks at Said the literary critic and public intellectual, Palestine, and Said’s intellectual legacy: the future through the lens of his work.

This book concludes an artistic research project which took place in Damascus in October 2008 and through an online platform in the months before and after. The project “Reloading Images: Damascus / Work in Progress 2008” brought together cultural practitioners from Syria, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Turkey, USA, Egypt and Slovakia to discuss forms of artistic agency and work together on artistic projects taking the city of Damascus as a starting point.