Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Urban Planning, Columbia University / Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
City and Regional Planning, University of California / Berkeley
Rebuilding the Center, Expanding the Frontier: Reconstructing Post-War(s) Beirut, Lebanon

Hezbollah is a complex entity: while some discourses describe it as a Lebanese armed organization central to the "War on Terror," others celebrate it as a successful resistance movement to Israel's occupation of Lebanon, and praise it for being an efficient service provider for the Shiite urban poor in Beirut. This research project examines what is much less known about Hezbollah: its critical role in restructuring urban space in Beirut, and the implications of this for Beirut as a city-in-conflict. Two moments are important for this study: the post civil war (1975-1990) phase during which the Lebanese government has been handing out monetary compensations for displaced families, and the period following the July 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, during which the war-ravaged southern suburbs of Beirut, known as AI-Dahiya, have been undergoing reconstruction by Hezbollah. Through archival and ethnographic research, the project examines three case studies designating different moments and sites in the making of the "Hezbollah City" within the confessional map of Beirut. The three sites- conceptualized as the center, the periphery, and the frontier- illustrate Hezbollah's complex spatial practices, while a comparison across them shows the paradoxes of the "Hezbollah City" and its implications on segregation along religious and class lines. The project thus investigates the articulation of space, religion, resistance ideologies, and militarization with neoliberal economic processes, to understand the proliferation of religious enclaves, violence, and new phases of displacement in Beirut. In so doing, it brings "civil society" actors to the foreground in the debate on the restructuring of cities, particularly those in conflict. Through examining the interrelation of space and ideology, the study seeks to understand the positioning of AI-Dahiya as a node in the transnational landscape of Islamic resistance and as a locally-bounded "target" in the Arab-Israeli conflict.