"The War of Graffiti": Contested Spaces in Beirut


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  • Speaker: Melanie S. Tanielian, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Michigan
  • Host Department: Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS)
  • Date: 09/23/2013
  • Time: 12:10 PM - 1:30 PM

  • Location: Room 1636 SSWB/International Institute, 1080 South University

  • Description:

    Graffiti as an public marker of dissent, social criticism and expression of political and sectarian ideologies has a long history in Beirut.  It became a particularly potent marker of contested spaces during the fifteen year-long civil war (1975-1990), which the journalist Maria Chakhtoura has coined "la Guerre des Graffiti." During the civil war, inhabitants of the city only glanced at writings, stencils and images on a wall and it would be obvious which militia or political party was in control of that particular street, block, or neighborhood of the city. In this lecture, I will explore the public discourse that found it's expression through "street art" during the war which was marked by fragmentation and division and explore its changing meaning in the post-war period.