Deen Sharp | AKPIA Lecture

Monday, October 22, 2018 at 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Building 3, 133
33 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, Cambridge, MA 02139

MIT Department of Architecture
Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture
Fall 2018 Lecture Series

Lebanon and the Fog of Reconstruction: Between the Future and Survival 

Reconstruction of the built environment is often tied to the end of war and the start of a post-conflict period but this link maybe misplaced. Reconstruction can also result in violence, displacement and social discord that is more commonly associated with the built environment’s destruction. To comprehend how reconstruction can be violent and tied to conflict, it is integral to recognize that war is not only about the destruction of the built environment. Construction and the control of mobility, in particular within urban areas, can be utilized to impose violence on others. To disrupt the link between reconstruction and post-war periods, I provide an account of Lebanon's so-called post-war reconstruction that highlights the sediments of the Civil War within it and how this process sustained certain forms of conflict. The vast reconstruction led by, and formed around, the urban development corporation Solidere in downtown Beirut I contend was not aimed at rebuilding a social contract or establishing a post-conflict era rather it was part of an accumulation of social power by one faction over others. The lesson of the Lebanese reconstruction is that rebuilding can be play a central part in maintaining conflict rather than creating a new social contract to work toward efforts to sustain peace. The link between reconstruction and post-conflict eras should not be automatically assumed but rather understood as something that needs to be forged.

Deen Sharp
AKPIA@MIT 2018-19 Post-Doctoral Fellow

Deen Sharp is the co-director of Terreform, Center for Advanced Urban Research, and a Post-Doctoral Fellow, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the co-editor of Beyond the Square: Urbanism and the Arab Uprisings (Urban Research: 2016). His most recent article “Difference as practice: Diffracting geography and the area studies turn” was published in Progress in Human Geography. Previously, he was a freelance journalist and consultant based in Lebanon. His research and writing focus on the geographies of the Middle East past and present, urban political economy, war and violence. His current project concerns the corporation and urban space in post-war Beirut. He has written for a number of publications, including, Jadaliyya, Portal 9, the Arab Studies Journal and the Guardian. He has worked for several UN agencies, including UNDP and UN-Habitat, governments and international NGOs.

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