Karl Sharro







Warspace: The City in Civil Conflict


“The practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.” Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958 

“For war, as we have seen, is not just a condition that disappears as soon as it stops, but it is society itself in one of the forms of its organisation.” Ahmad Beydoun, What You’ve Known and Been Through, 1990. 

Against the backdrop of the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), this essay will explore the hypothesis that war reconfigures space and spatial relationships in the urban context and produces its own logic of space. This hypothesis is based on a specific critical reading of the civil war that highlights war’s preference to establishing rather than resolving itself, and consequently its need to transfer its logic onto the different aspects of the city and of society.[1] I am calling this condition warspace, the logic of war represented spatially. War is not a natural phenomenon as it may have appeared to be to most of the Lebanese, war is a self-sustaining organism that maintains its own reasons for being and replaces all projects that employ it. It dictates forms of survival that reinforce it as a system and contribute to its perpetuation. Consequently, warspace is the space in which those practices of survival, or of overcoming the dangers and lacks of war, are enacted. In that, it is the contradictory space in which both resistance to the war and succumbing to its logic; the latter more frequently than the former, are encountered. It is then, by definition, an illusive space of investigation. It would have been very fortunate if we could isolate methodologically the acts of resistance from the acts of compliance, and consequently identify the spaces of normality from the spaces of adaptation, but I must warn that such distinctions are impossible to draw, and my task will be to explore how spatial practices constantly fluctuate between denying the war and reinforcing it. This is a very unsatisfying process in which no heroic acts of resistance will be uncovered but subtle forms of persistence will, hopefully, be recorded. 

In order to situate the discussion about warspace, I have to state right at the outset that this space is not an object of fascination of this essay. In dealing with this condition of conflict I run the risk of appearing to be “aesthetising” the war subject, a possibility that would undermine this essay’s potential of contributing to our understanding of the urban condition and the ability of cities to simultaneously nurture and overcome conflicts and catastrophes. In that sense, wartime and warspace are like laboratory conditions under which cities can be observed. Such a process is more relevant in the case of civil conflicts, as some of the factors leading to civil conflicts emanate directly from the city, and in the case of Beirut, the relationship between the conflict and the city has been investigated by different writers.[2] In earlier attempts at studying this relationship I made the error of borrowing, all too literally, the model of the Western city that is threatened by explosion as a result of the internal contradictions that it nurtures[3], but this led me more than once into impasse because of the inability of this model to represent the Lebanese context. While it is certainly true that in the case of Beirut many of the contradictions that were visible in it ultimately contributed to its violent explosion, it is important to point out that several of these contradictions were not of the city in as much as they were enacted in it. This is different from the case of a Western city of accumulation that progressively expands the gap between its uppermost and lowermost classes and by doing this faces the danger of explosion. Indeed, it is problematic to talk about classes in Beirut without several qualifications, for all too often communal strife is dressed up in the language of social justice and projects of liberation are appropriated by this or that confessional group. Hence, we come across another parameter that defines the limits of this study: we have to acknowledge that the forces driving the conflict overlap with the city but are not produced intrinsically by it. 

Beirut Prospers

In order to clarify this last statement, I need to discuss the history of modern Beirut and the immediate causes of the civil war. This is essential for understanding the different parameters of the conflict and the way it played itself out. I will start by tracing Beirut’s first significant expansion in the nineteenth century, for it is then that modern Beirut starts coming into shape, developing the seeds of its future conflicts in parallel with its spectacular growth: 

Thanks to the commerce in silk and the traffic with Europe, Beirut was transformed from an insignificant port town into a major city of trade. As late as 1820, it was a port town with a population of 6000; by the end of the century it had become a thriving city with a population of 120,000. Beirut out-stripped its rivals, the coastal towns of Sidon to its south and Tripoli to its north: Sidon and Tripoli remained towns of Islam, towns that looked eastward. Beirut took in the ways of the West and its emissaries-the travellers, the consulates, the religious and educational missions, the merchants.

The city walls were pushed aside. The port facilities were expanded to handle the steamer traffic. By 1863 Beirut was served by seven sea routes. The world of Beirut was being re-cast in the image of Europe. There would be winners and losers in a city accommodating itself to new masters.[4] 

And it was the Christians of Lebanon who were the winners, capitalising on their cultural ties with their fellow Christians in Europe. The Christians had maintained close links with Europe for centuries, and now with Beirut set to become a regional trading centre they were to reap the benefits of these links. This good fortune did not please the Moslems because they saw their own position being weakened: 

The Moslems found it hard to accept the advantages accruing to their Christian neighbours and not to themselves. They had always been on top and saw their superiority as natural. Now the tables were turned, the times were out of joint, and Christian appetites grew with the eating, the more so as the new emigrants from the mountain came devoid of the urban instinct for co-existence and compromise.[5] 

By the 1860’s the demographic balance had shifted in favour of the Christians who were by then two thirds of the residents of the city. There was also another significant demographic change, the old Christian Beirutis were Greek Orthodox, but the new migrants were Maronites from the mountains, with different outlooks: 

The Greek Orthodox had been men and women of the city: they had shared its life with the Moslem Sunnis. The two communities, the Sunnis and the Greek Orthodox, had known and accepted one another. The Greek Orthodox had the temperament and the ways of the city. The new Maronite arrivals were at heart men of the mountain. The Greek Orthodox had learned how to bend with the wind. They knew, as it were, how to walk the narrow streets and alleyways of a city of rival cultures. The Maronites had been strangers to the city; to the new city they brought the ways and outlook of their sheltered villages.[6] 

This is the pattern that would continue in Beirut for the next century: new comers would come in, bringing in their own ways. These ways would be mediated by the city, but the tension between the acquired ways of the city and the inherited ways of the mountains and the villages would persist. After the Maronites, who kept relocating to Beirut, many others came seeking a shelter or a better life. The Armenians, fleeing the massacres that the Turks had committed against them, started coming during World War I and continued to come throughout the first half of the century. In 1948, tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees came to Beirut after they were expelled by the Israelis after the foundation of Jewish state. The Shiites started moving to Beirut from their deprived areas in the east and the south of the country in the fifties.[7] 

Lebanon is born

With Lebanon gaining independence from the French in 1945, Beirut was set for a fresh period of prosperity following the end of the Second World War. However, the Lebanon that was created then was based on unhappy marriage of convenience since its inception. Part of the Moslems had wanted to be integrated with Syria, while part of the Christians wanted their own state with stronger ties to France whom they saw as their protector. The compromise was born out of a Maronite-Sunni agreement that the rest of the confessional groups did not have a major say in, nor did they have any significant powers in the new state.[8]

 This agreement laid the foundation for how politics was to be practiced in Lebanon. The confessional group was identified as the main political unit, and while the first agreement favoured the Maronites and, to a lesser extent, the Sunnis, the nature of the system had left the possibility open for other confessional groups to alter it in order to gain more representation. The conditions of practicing politics were established in confessional terms. The political history of Lebanon from then onwards becomes the story of the redistribution of power among the confessional groups as each of them becomes aware of its potential as a group. Naturally, the resistance by those in power to giving up some of their privileges leads to situations when violence becomes the chosen way of adjusting the situation, and this is the background for the civil war.[9] 

Beirut’s prosperity after the Second World War was phenomenal, benefiting from its geographic position and the cultural ties that the Lebanese had with Europe and the Western world on the one hand, and with the Arab countries of the Gulf on the other. However, the benefit continued to accrue mostly to the Christians, while the new migrants to the city were not equipped to deal with this new world they were moving into. 

Beirut’s position as an entrepôt and banking hub to facilitate capitalist Western investments in the booming oil economies of the Arab Middle East led to a sharp socio-economic polarisation, closely commensurate with the concentration of wealth and poverty among particular social-religious groups; that is, class divisions, disparity, and geo-religious divisions were in close correspondence.[10] 

This polarisation went hand in hand with the rapid urbanisation of Lebanon which was fed both by economic prosperity on one hand and rural migration on the other. At the eve of the civil war, half of the population of Lebanon lived in Beirut and its suburbs. The spatial manifestation of this polarisation was the ‘misery belt’ of tin shacks that had surrounded Beirut by now, and which housed rural migrants, who by then were mostly Shiites from the south and the east of the country.[11] The misery belt overlapped in many cases with the Palestinian refugee camps, whose inhabitants were being mobilised by the Palestinian armed organisations that were carrying military operations against Israel from South Lebanon. A revolutionary energy was taking hold in the camps and through them onto the Shiites of the misery belt. The focus of this energy was the existing order in Lebanon, represented by the Maronite elite that controlled the main state institutions. At the same time, the Maronites were growing impatient with the Palestinian militancy that was no longer confined to the border with Israel but was expanding increasingly into Beirut itself. The Palestinian organisations had by that point become almost a ‘state within a state’ exercising control over large parts of Beirut. The Israeli retaliations for Palestinian operations were also no longer confined to the border, taking the shape of assassinations of Palestinian cadres in Beirut and culminating with a commando attack on the Beirut International Airport and the destruction of the entire Lebanese airlines civilian fleet. The Maronite impatience had by now transformed into choosing the military option in order to consolidate the waning authority and fend off the demands of the other confessional groups. Training camps were set up and arms were being imported in large quantities, the same being done by almost every major confessional group and political party. The time of the militias had started.[12] 

The War Erupts

With this, the stage is set, both for the war to start and for us to move from the historical background into warspace itself. I will begin by identifying the major spatial transformations that the war introduced in its first year. After a few local skirmishes the war rapidly moved towards Beirut’s city centre where it would find a battleground that would serve it for all of its fifteen years. The city centre, Beirut’s historic core and its commercial, cultural and governmental centre, was a meeting ground for all the Lebanese before the war. No single group controlled the centre, unlike other parts of Beirut that were predominantly occupied by residents from the same group. When the war broke out, it appeared that no one wanted to lay claim to the centre and everybody, it seems, wanted to destroy it. The downtown became a battlefield, not one that houses conflicts over territory, but one that gives combatants a chance to exchange firepower. The boundaries defining the zones of the different groups were defined in the first year of the war in an almost natural way, responding to the demographic distribution in the city. The centre was thus freed to become an ideal battle ground, one that is not constrained by any limits, a ‘pure’ conflict space. 

The Loss of the Centre

This is the first distinctive aspect of warspace in Beirut: the loss of its centre. This is first and foremost the loss of the place where the city ‘comes together,’ for, as I have mentioned, the centre was a meeting ground for all Beirutis. In a city where almost every place has a confessional association, a place that is free from such association is the ideal meeting place. Ahmad Beydoun identified the importance of the centre in terms of its ‘neutrality’ and not in terms of the physical interaction itself that would happen in it: 

We come to the image of the Bourj Square and the Ottoman souks[13] that were, before they were destroyed by the war, full of people, merchandise, colours, scents and touches, both pleasant and unpleasant. These places were, before they were afflicted, the most prominent remaining features of Ottoman Beirut. They were the living spaces in which a common image of the city existed among all its residents, because of its relative ancientness and consequently its neutrality and distance from the causes of division and clash between identities. 

Those places were, and the rest of the centre around them, places for encounter. Many Beirutis and Lebanese came and worked there, their paths crossing on the small streets, shouldering each other, merchants, employees, shoppers, strollers and passers-by, without taking consideration of class or sect… 

The interaction between the different confessions is not achieved by crowdedness in a narrow path, without asking about the sects of those who are crowded, and neither by the relationship of buying and selling between two individuals from different sects. It is based on something beyond that: in the spontaneity of being in a place which does not have a sectarian characteristic, and in the simplicity of belonging to it and the establishment of the public right of using it.[14] 

While most of the Lebanese lamented the loss of the centre and praised its qualities, they chose one image for that object of affection, the city centre, that was frozen in time from a particular historic moment. In that sense, the loss of the centre was seen as a catastrophic event that befell the centre and consequently the Beirutis who had seen in it a symbol for coexistence. However, this interpretation falls under the category of understanding war as a ‘natural’ phenomenon that people cannot intervene in, and this, as I have mentioned in the introduction, is a problematic conceptualisation of the war. For the lamentations of the Lebanese seem insincere when one contemplates the level of destruction that the Lebanese themselves inflicted on that same centre. In reality, the centre had by that point lost its significance for the residents of the city.

Aldo Rossi had proposed to study “apparently accidental occurrences in the successive evolution of the city, such as the destructive effects of war and bombarding,” on the assumption that “occurrences of this type only accelerate certain tendencies that already exist, modifying them in part, but permitting a more rapid realization of the intentions which are previously present in economic form and which would otherwise still have produced physical effects-destructions and reconstructions-on the body of the city through a process which in effect would be hardly different from that of war.”[15]

If we extend Rossi’s assumption to include not only economic but also social form, then we can see the abandonment of the centre as beginning with the confessional groups discarding the need for a meeting place from their urban consciousness, which would later facilitate the physical abandonment of the centre. Indeed, the transformation of the centre had already begun before the war, and the war came to complete that transformation.[16] If we recall the postulate that war is the image of society in one of its forms then we can understand the ease with which the Lebanese not only abandoned the centre but also transformed it into a battle ground that they never ceased to destroy throughout the war. At the eve of the war, it appeared that the residents of Beirut no longer wanted custody over the space of interaction; they wanted to be left to their own devices in the neighbourhoods that they wanted to fashion after their own self-image. 

The City Divides

The physical fracture that the city experienced as a result of the destruction of the centre expanded southwards dividing the city in two parts, east and west Beirut.  This ‘fracture’ became known as the Green Line, the separating line between east and west Beirut across which regular military engagements, shelling and sniper fire would be exchanged. East Beirut consisted of the Christian, mostly residential, neighbourhoods, and West Beirut of the traditional Sunni neighbourhoods and the more cosmopolitan Ras Beirut and Hamra districts. The Christian militias waged a brutal war against the Palestinian camps that were located geographically within the area they now controlled that ended with the killing of thousands of people and the complete destruction of these camps. The displaced residents, not only Palestinians but also a large number of Shiite slum dwellers relocated to the southern suburb of Beirut, that gradually developed into the most densely populated area in Beirut, mostly of ‘illegal’ construction and building on government land.[17]

The southern suburb, this came to be the name by which it is referred to, was part of West Beirut, now under the control of Palestinian armed organisations and leftist and Islamic militias. Unlike east Beirut were there were a fewer number of militias, very similar in their outlooks and their ‘objectives,’ and where one militia, the phalangists, managed to assume, more or less, total control, West Beirut had a multitude of militias that were different in their convictions and objectives, sometimes radically, but for the moment having a common enemy in the Maronite militias. To briefly sketch this ideological landscape in Beirut, there were the Palestinian organisations interested in maintaining their ‘right’ to carry out military operations against Israel from within Lebanese territory and also supporting the social justice claims of the deprived sections of the Lebanese society. The leftist organisations were driven by the desire to reform the Lebanese political system which favoured the Christians over the other groups, and they called for a secular state and social reform. The Islamic organisations, which were to become more powerful and important during the later years of the war, had as an ultimate objective the foundation of an Islamic state in Lebanon and as intermediate objectives more rights for the Moslems. Add to this the nationalistic parties, the pan-Arab and the Syrian nationalists, ceasing the opportunity of the conflict to translate their struggles into armed movements, and you get a rough idea of what the ideological landscape of West Beirut was like in the first few years of the war.[18]

This ‘irregular’ landscape was translated spatially in the different parts of West Beirut. Each organisation, and for each of the general ‘trends’ that I named there were at least three or four armed organisations, sought to establish its presence in an area that would it make its base. The shifting nature of alliances which was characteristic of the civil war meant that the source of threat could not be trusted to be the same, and this in turn was translated into an ever increasing level of fragmentation in the city fabric. In some cases, the neighbourhood became a defensive unit with all what that entailed in terms of fortification and politicisation of the public space. The model was of a city in which each locality was reinforcing its internal unity at the expense of the whole, and positioning itself against all other localities whether they are on the same side of the city or not. 

…Soon after the outburst of the civil war, the city became divided into districts, each dominated and ruled by an opposing ideological, ethnic, or religious armed power group. Fearing persecution, people generally relocated to whichever district of the city provided them with a sense of security. Soon after, what might have been a pluralistic society was transformed into a mosaic of human settlements based on religious affiliation, ethnicity, and/or political loyalty.[19] 

Massive population shifts, particularly since they are accompanied by the reintegration of displaced groups into more homogeneous, self-contained, and exclusive spaces, have also reinforced communal solidarity. Consequently, territorial and confessional identities, more so perhaps than at any other time, are beginning to converge.[20] 

Thus the new geography of Beirut was born. It was born out of a city that had lost its centre, the centre being the spatial representation of its unity, and then underwent a process of radical fragmentation of its space.[21] Warspace is then experienced as the loss of what makes a city more than the sum of its different parts, the loss of what holds a city together and makes its physical proximities meaningful. In other words, it is city space re-perceived,[22] an operation that substitutes the previous totality of the city with a ‘meaningful’ locality. We have a linguistic clue about this process. After the division of Beirut into east and West, each part was known by that name. But in colloquial Arabic, it is possible to drop the noun, and instead of saying east or West Beirut, one can say, the eastern or the Western, so Beirut was dropped and was no longer referred to as a whole. Despite the fact that a house could be a few metres away from the other part of the city, it became natural for its residents to think of that part in terms of its ‘otherness,’ thus internalising the distinction between the different parts of the city, a process allowed by the linguistic manoeuvre of dropping the city’s name when referring to it. 

Morphology of Crisis

Warspace has its morphological manifestations as well. It’s both, and not in the interest of word play, a morphology of crisis and a crisis of morphology. By the former I mean the constant transformation of the physical elements of the city in response to the shifting sources of threats: when the enemy acquires a new position in which snipers or artillery can be placed the safe/unsafe boundaries change and require new divisions of the household and new paths that offer a shield from the direction of fire. And when there is a threat, or a rumour, of an attack on a neighbourhood, barriers and sand bags have to be moved into streets and open spaces in order to redefine the boundaries of the neighbourhood and make it more defendable. Because of the constant readjustment of political alliances and enmities, the direction from which threat can arise was impossible to fix. Consequently, the barriers have to be shifted continuously in order to adapt to new threats and new enemies. For people living in these morphologies of crisis, this meant a constant re-adaptation to the new morphology involving continuous Lynchian processes of mental mapping to identify the different elements of the new morphology. At the level of the city, not of the neighbourhood, the necessity for travelling between one part of the city to another, mostly between East and West Beirut, meant the need to identify the accessible crossing points. In one of the mysteries of the civil war, the five major crossing points between East and West Beirut were rarely all ‘open’ at the same time. The ‘traveller’ had to find out which crossing points were open and, more importantly, which ones were safe, as often the other side would use the crossing point for random kidnapping, and sometimes murder, of travellers from the other side. This process was facilitated by the fact that the Lebanese identity card shows the religion and confessional group of its bearer, which would immediately qualify a person as a potential victim of violence because of that belonging. Since the alteration between the crossing points became as unpredictable as the weather, radio stations introduced regular updates about which crossing points are open and which are closed, and newsflashes about particularly dangerous ones.

When ‘knowing’ the city becomes akin to predicting the weather, the morphology of the city undergoes a crisis. How can any representation of space stabilise, even momentarily, if its object is being continuously transformed? The crisis of morphology is, then, the crisis of perceptual engagement with this morphology. This crisis does not preclude any possibility of mentally representing the city at the individual and group levels, but it does influence significantly any such representation. Thus any representation will have to introduce distinctions between the safe and unsafe parts features of that morphology and consequently limit the exploration of the unknown because of its potential dangerousness. This is the point that I wanted to get at: that the representations of the city in this case describe the limits of ‘safe’ localities that are informed by predictable parameters of exploration, favouring familiarity over unfamiliarity. The city then looses one of its possibilities: incidental interaction within it. 

The Self-sufficient House

I will now turn to a further level of fragmentation that war brings the city to. We have seen so far how the centre is removed, for all practical purposes, from the city and how the city breaks down into its constitutive parts. At the next level, the smallest units of society, the family and the individual, and correspondingly, the smallest spatial unit, the house, will increase in definition and clarity at the expense of the public realm. With the collapse of the state and its institution as a result of the military activity and of the militias playing an increasing role in the control of the public space, public services became unreliable and disrupted. Electric power, telephones, water supply, all the networked services that enable the modern city to function were being rationed. At times of severe crises, those services would become unavailable for months on end. The response that the Beirutis developed was based on self-sufficiency: they would buy small electric generators to produce their own electricity, dig wells and use mechanical pumps to distribute the water to buildings, and make their own bread at home when bakeries stop working for one reason or another.[23]

With the acquired knowledge that war is not a passing event, the people of Beirut resigned themselves to its presence, and adapted to the new conditions that it created. It is in this process of adapting and of devising the means by which they could fend off the disruptions of the war that the Beirutis showed a preference for individual solutions that signified their withdrawal from publicness as a characteristic of city life.

The logic that governed the responses of the Beirutis was that of institutionalising exceptions. With this we encounter once more the understanding of the war as an external phenomenon, like a natural catastrophe, that one can absolve oneself from any responsibility in. War is seen as an act of fate, and this justifies all responses that enable one to survive it. Crisis measures become the norm for how people conduct their lives.

These crisis measures manifest themselves in favouring individual survival, and often comfort, over public responsibility or respect for public institutions Thus, civic servants would stop going to their offices except to collect pay checks for the jobs that they were not doing, university students would seek the help of a militiaman to get degrees that they did not deserve, and countless other such examples.[24]

What concerns us in this essay is how such attitudes manifested themselves spatially. The most obvious manifestation was the appropriation of public spaces for private use, and what this entailed in terms of eroding the public realm. This erosion occurred on the physical level, but also on the mental level where the balance between private needs and the public realm was tipped significantly in favour of the former.


Figure 1


Let me explore how those infringements on the public realm manifested themselves. In figure 1, we see the courtyard of one of the buildings in the central cabinet complex in downtown Beirut during the war. The building was one of the important governmental buildings and also a unique example of Ottoman architecture. Typically of all the buildings in the city centre, the building was stripped down to its bare structure with a very efficient combination of shelling and looting. This, however, did not prevent some displaced families from moving into the building and occupying it. We see two signs of this occupation in the picture, the children playing near the tree,

and the woman hanging the laundry on the clothesline to dry. We can tell from the state that the building is in that it can’t offer much by way of shelter: the roof has completely collapsed, the windows are all missing, and even the upper floor has collapsed. In fact, even the spot where the woman is hanging the clothes is not a good choice as it falls under the shadow of the big tree and the building.

Why did this family choose to live in this building then? Certainly not because of a shortage of spaces that they could move into, there were several buildings in the area that were unoccupied. This confirms with a pattern that was created in the war where public buildings, usually schools, would be the first to be occupied by displaced people. Perhaps because the state is an abstract entity, unlike the real people who own houses and flats, that this makes infringement on its rights easier to accept. Not that private property was respected by the displaced; several thousand houses were occupied by displaced people during the war.

The occupation of public buildings can be partially explained by the fact that the state is an abstract entity, but that is not enough. This attitude reflected the privileging of individual needs over collective institutions that became characteristic of the spatial practices of the war. What the picture can’t tell us is that this building was a functioning governmental institution only a few years before the picture was taken. However, in the picture it appears to be a historic ruin. This is not accidental, the institution had to be reduced to the state of a ruin before it could be occupied, for the ruin does not speak of a living presence but of dead past. Thus, in order to ensure the survival of the small social unit, the family, the public manifestation of an order that does not belong to the order of the war, that of the state, has to be rendered a ruin. 

De-urbanising the City

We are beginning to build up an understanding of warspace based on its anti-urban qualities. It appears that warspace strips the city of the elements of its urbanism. We can see that primarily in the fragmentation of the city space in order to weaken the sense of the whole and hurl the social units into self-sufficient and self-defined entities. This is, in part, founded on that old tension between the ‘ways of the mountain’ and the ‘ways of the city,’ the internal tension that accompanied Beirut since its first significant growth in the nineteenth century; but is also the result of particular city culture in Beirut that was not born out of an understanding of the city as one whole. This would explain why at times of crises the natural ‘fault lines’ running through the city would materialise as physical boundaries across which the different groups can enact their struggles.

This fragmentation was being enforced by the forces of what I have called the war order; the militias that possessed the tools for practicing power in the absence of the state. The next part of the essay will focus on examining these two phenomena as they materialised in the fabric of the city. The practices of the militia order and war’s tendency towards de-urbanising city space manifested themselves in visual and spatial impacts on the city, some of which I will try to identify using images from the war. 

The War Order 

“Indeed, not since the general acceptance of the concept of nation-state has a country disintegrated in quite this way, with the very population held hostage by the rival authority of marauding gangs, not for weeks or months but for years.”[25] 

Figure 2 

The militias practiced localised forms of authority. Unlike the authority of the state which is under normal circumstances not contested by internal rivals, militia authority necessitates less subtle forms of control and domination. The militias devised various mechanisms through which they could validate their local authority and reinforce local sites of power that would have a necessary level of internal coherence. In a manner not dissimilar to that of totalitarian regimes, they sought to establish visual orders in the areas they controlled through political posters and 

banners. (Figure 2). The Warhol-esque repetition of images, reminiscent of Fascist multiplication of symbols in public space to the point of undermining signification, served as one of the basic tools for the visual colonisation of local space. As the war continued, the militias localised practices undermined whatever ideological claims they had started the war with. With the loss of credibility and representative value, the distinction between the different militias became one of geographic accident, intersecting in varying degrees with communal association with residents’ groups on family and clan levels. 

Figure 3 

This necessitated a reinforcement of the tools of the visual and ‘textual’ order as the ‘audience’ became increasingly alienated from the suggested signification of the posters and banners that constituted the militias repertoire of political imagery. The

Martyr’s poster (figure 3) appeared, I would like to imagine, at that moment in time. The poster is an image of a militia man or woman who met his or her death in battle or while carrying out a military operation, and very frequently while trying to steal a house or loot a business. The importance of the poster is that it provided a basis for the power of the militia fighters: they are the living embodiment of the dead who are represented in those images. This constructs a vertical relationship of legitimisation, one that passes through the martyrs to God by implication, and through that they can draw this power they exercise over the civilians. The civilians become objects of disdain in this construct: they will outlive their warriors who are martyrs-in-the-making and consequently have to live with that shame. In this scheme of things there is no recognition of that fact that the civilian in Beirut can meet his death at any moment by a sniper’s bullet or a car bomb, the fighters appropriate violent death as a natural distinction of their function.[26] 

The Militia Order Spatialised 

The militias’ power relied, as I have mentioned, on their ability to use violence indiscriminately. That is supported by the militias’ manifestation of their presence in the public realm, through the posters and the banners, which, ironically, can only be experienced by those living under their control and who theoretically their supporters, and not by those on the other side. The militias extend their control over the public space of the city through appropriating landmarks and proclaiming this appropriation as a means of signalling their domination. The militias acquired the means to transform meaning through their techniques of spatial control. 

Figure 4 

The war seems to have caught Beirut at a specific moment in time in which it could have either gone on to a new level of prosperity or to its explosion as was the case. In the downtown area, or to be more accurate, around its perimeter, a number of high-rise projects were being completed when the war erupted. Such buildings, standing to full height, were abandoned at different levels of completion. These buildings became part of the visual and spatial order of warspace. Because of the different ways in which they were used by the militias, they acquired meanings that were almost exclusively about their wartime use.

The Murr Tower (Figure 4) is a 36-story office building that was built using a rapid-construction system that allowed it to achieve that height within a few months. However, the building was never to be occupied: before the external finishing works were even started the war broke out and the project which was located at the edge of the city centre was abandoned. The crane that was used in the construction remained hugging the building for the duration of the civil war. Like many other buildings that shared the same fate, the building and the crane were frozen in that moment.

Because of its height and location, the Murr Tower was a strategic point for snipers, and its reinforced concrete shell provided a good protection for those inside, and it became a very effective sniping location. To those living at the other side of Beirut who faced the sniper fire from the building in their daily comings and goings the building became a source of danger, and consequently, its meaning was transformed from an intended symbol of progress to an element of the war landscape. The fact that the building was never completed meant that people did not associate the building with any pre-war role that it used to play in the city. No one worked in the building, no one visited a physician or a lawyer in it, and no one ever had a mean on its top floor. Because of that, the Murr Tower and the other buildings like it became exclusively war objects that were controlled by the militias and incorporated in their spatial system. 

Figure 5: Murr Tower on the left, and Holliday Inn on the right. 

As I have mentioned, the Murr Tower was not the only high-rise building to be abandoned at the start of the war. There were a number of hotels and office buildings that suffered the same fate and were abandoned at different stages of their construction and were never meant to be inhabited. The Murr Tower is most iconic of those because of its location at the highest point of the city centre and also because of its architecture. The concrete surface which was not meant to be left exposed, represented a quality in the making. Several hundred meters down the road from the Murr Tower, the Holiday Inn hotel (Figure 5) was a bigger and more imposing structure that was also abandoned before it was used. It, too, became a favourite location for snipers. The change in meaning of these structures could not have been more dramatic under any other circumstances. The qualities precisely meant to make them pleasant, specifically the views to the sea and over the other parts of the city, became very valuable assets for the snipers. The ability to control the plane of movement with the combination of the privileged position for seeing and the capability to intervene in it that is allowed by the modern sniping equipment, both transformed the areas around these buildings, producing safe areas that are hidden from the sniper’s line of vision and dangerous ones that are exposed to it. To indicate the dangerous zones for passers-by the residents use signs that were similar to traffic signs with the words “Warning! Sniper” written on them.

These signs were one of the indicators of the internalisation of the logic of war by the people. After a while, the crisis nature of the war became less urgent, although the war by no means became more subdued. People started accepting the war as an almost natural situation, and the sniper warning signs became instruments of coexistence with this threatening situation with a certain level of security. Unless, of course, something unexpected happened.

And the unexpected did happen. In the case of the Holiday Inn, one event portrayed this. In the first phase of the civil war, 1975-6, many foreign mercenaries and ‘revolutionaries’ came to Lebanon to fight on either side of the conflict. In particular, many international Communist revolutionaries came to fight on the side of the Lebanese Left. One of those fighters was a Japanese Red Army member who was trained as a sharpshooter and was placed in the Holiday Inn as a sniper. One day, and nobody knows why, the Japanese sniper started shooting at the people in west Beirut, at the side he was fighting with. He managed to kill several people before he was shot himself. In a typical wartime ritual, his body was tied to the back of a car and dragged in the streets of Beirut for several hours.

The story uncovers a specific aspect of these privileged elevated positions that were allowed by modern architecture. Instead of observing the vertical divide between their side and the other side, these positions were actually removed from the plane of daily life, and reassigned positions from which they can see and control it. In that respect, this is a specific manifestation of the premise that I started with: that war produces its own logic of space. And once that process is put in place, it is not always possible to subject it to the requirements of the conflict behind it: it can assume an independent life of its own, and given the specific spatial conditions that it encounters, it can readjust them in unexpected ways. 

Figure 6 

Figure 7 

Similarly to the Murr Tower, the bridge that connects East and West Beirut (Figures 6 and 7) which was the first part to be constructed of the inner ring road that was to circle the city centre, also underwent a transformation in meaning. The bridge meant initially to connect the different parts of the city, soon became very dangerous to traverse. The bridge became a favourite location for kidnapping travellers from one part of the city to the other and killing them and throwing the bodies in the tunnel at the end of the bridge. (Which is, incidentally, right next to the Murr Tower.)

The bridge in nature points to the other part of the city, indicating the possibility that it could take you there, was transformed. Instead of taking one to the other part of the city, it could take one to one’s death. Again through the militias practices the landscape of the city is transformed in meaning: what connects the different parts of the city to each other becomes one of the elements that declare the impossibility of visiting the other part and forces the elimination of the part of the city from the urban consciousness. 

Difference is expelled

In the first part of the war, the city centre was not abandoned completely. Instead, it developed as a site for marginal activities. Physically, large parts of the centre became inaccessible because of their position ‘in the line of fire,’ however; some neighbourhoods around the edges of the central district were relatively safe. With the increasing uniformity prevailing in the different parts of the city, difference was expelled if not forcefully then by the loss of anonymity that the increasingly ‘communalised’ neighbourhoods acquired. As a result, those who did not fit comfortably within these neighbourhoods moved in to fill the void in the centre. An interesting reversed condition was thus created: the margin moved into the centre, a centre which was no longer recognised as one, however. Those marginal individuals and groups were drug addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes and others than can be accommodated by a city but not by the fragmented communitarian space that was being created in Beirut.

This process of movement into the disused centre was a response to the ‘illegality’ of their situation in the rest of the city. Thus, the ‘lawlessness’ of the central district offered itself as a space in which these individuals could settle with a relative comfort far from the intrusiveness of the disciplinary apparatuses of the state that concerned themselves in managing the control of these individuals and their activities, the aim not being to stop these activities from happening, but from ensuring they have regulated of visibility. Prostitution should be made visible for tourists whereas it should be insulated from the rest of a society that still considers itself ‘traditional.’ With the rapid loss of state authority at the start of the war these sorts of policing activities became a low priority. As the local militias moved in to replace the state police in the areas under their control, they also interested themselves, in periods of relative calm, with the control of these activities for one of two purposes. One was the financial gain that could be made from prostitution and drug trafficking, and the other integrating these ordering practices within an overall community image that these militias claimed to represent.

One such practice came as a reaction to a phenomenon that developed in the early eighties in the Christian enclave. Teenagers started dressing up in the ‘punk’ style and replicating the hairstyles of the punk rock bands that were popular in the late seventies and early eighties. The Christian militias in charge responded violently, their patrols would beat those teenagers up in public brutally and sometimes ‘arrest’ them. From the point of view of those militias, the ‘punks’ represented a challenge to the kind of order that they were imposing on their enclave which rested on an image of the Christian community as threatened community surrounded by hostile groups trying to eliminate it.

It is against this background that the ‘marginals’ moved into the city centre, tolerating the proximity to the fighting areas in return for a space that tolerated their lifestyles and their practices. The one aspect that the three different main groups, the homosexuals, the drug addicts and the prostitutes, had in common, was that their ‘crimes’ were directed against their bodies in the first place. Thus, the void that the centre became after it was abandoned by the fighting groups offered an alternative space for those marginal activities in which their bodies were not subjected to narratives that incorporated their bodies within broader social organisational frameworks, either of production or of a communal identity, that require a disciplined conduct of the body to fulfil those broader requirements. Such was the myth that the militias tried to portray the bodies of their warriors with: ascetic bodies that were dedicated to the protection of the group and fitting within its mythical self-image. (Figure 8.) 

Figure 8: Poster for the Christian Militia, the Lebanese Forces, depicting a militia man praying in front of the Virgin Mary 

The City Persists

With this examination of the different ‘sites’ of militia order, the body of the city and the bodies of its citizens, we observe different aspects of that order and the way it establishes and sustains itself, and erodes city-ness with its practices. This order, the political order of warspace, legitimises itself through its ability of redefining the meaning of city space and making that meaning a product of the war and repressing any traces of a prior order, of any manifestations of the pre-war city and its system. How does the city respond? I have suggested in the beginning that there one could come across examples of resistance to the war and its logic, was this resistance based on isolated incidents or did it manifest itself publicly in the city? Let me try to address this question next. 

Ahmad Beydoun identified forms of resistance to the war that he understood in cultural terms and in opposition to the prevailing ‘pro-war culture:’ 

Nevertheless cultural resistance to the war and its aftermath is real and alive. Like the pro-war culture, it is not made up entirely of political statements or ideological creeds, but can also be found in poetry, novels, dance and music, not to mention historical, sociological, economic, and judicial works. By cultural resistance I do not mean cultural productions openly objecting to the war, but rather the expression of values which contribute to maintaining a refined civil life in out society. A war can try as best as it can to be a piece of military art and it can include inspired propaganda, but that is not the case in Lebanon, and in any case war is still in the final analysis a crude and summary practice, causing massive destruction of human life, achievements, villages and forests, while any refined expression of human experience or natural beauty, any authentic achievement in art, any serious quest for truth and beauty carries with it a potentially pacifying energy. To do so it need not mention war at all.[27] 

The revelation of this statement is that since the main target of the war in the urban context appeared to be the modern city itself then resistance to it has to come in the shape of adherence to urban values and practices. Artistic and cultural production that insists on exploring its own agendas and resists the pressures of the war order to conscript it is by itself a high form of resistance to the war. I propose to develop on this concept an understanding of the resistive spaces as those spaces that sustain the practices of the modern city, not only in the public but also in the private realm. I will examine two such spaces: a writer’s room and a seafront walkway. 

When the war erupted in April 1975, the Syrian writer Ghada Al-Saman, unpublished at the time, lived in neighbourhood that was close to the hotels’ district at the edge of the Beirut central district. The area witnessed fierce battles for the control of the hotels because of their strategic importance. Al-Saman was trapped inside her flat for two months because of the fighting. She wrote her first novel Beirut Nightmares [28] during this period, working intensely on it for the duration of her confinement. Regardless of the quality of the novel itself, and it does have some deep insights about the war, its importance for our discussion is the act of writing itself: faced with her confinement, Al-Saman decided to write and eventually publish her novel. In a sense, war had provided the space in which this ‘resistive’ activity can take place, but the importance of the act is in choosing not to succumb to the war but to respond by reinforcing one’s sense of purpose beyond the immediate threatening danger of the war.

Al-Saman was not alone in writing; otherwise her gesture would be the heroic exception rather than urban practice of resistance to war and its requirements. Miriam Cooke identified a group of women writers in War’s Other Voices [29] that she called the Beirut Decentrists. She described them as: “a group of women writers who have shared Beirut as their home and the war as their experience. They have been decentred in a double sense: physically, they were scattered all over a self-destructing city; intellectually, they moved in separate spheres. They wrote alone and for themselves. They would not conceive of their writings as related to those of others, yet their marginal perspective, which gave them insight into the holistic aspect of the war, united them and allowed them discursively to undermine and restructure society around the image of a new centre.”[30] 

The ‘image of a new centre’ was both a challenge to the war and to the society that had so far marginalised women in most fields, but in which their marginalisation was more pronounced in literature because of the large number of writers and poets that Lebanon had produced in the twentieth century. Cooke included more than fifty obscure women writers in her book, which covered the period from 1975 to 1982. In terms of their writing being a practice of ‘resistive space,’ what makes this phenomenon important is that those women were not aware of each other’s writing but they still wrote individually and each in response to her own concerns. Nevertheless, their collective production contributed towards challenging not only the prior social order but, more importantly, the war order. What this comes down to is the confirmation of the individualism of these writers in a society where communities deny individuals that status, and more importantly the articulation through that individualism of social concerns that do not coincide with the outlook of the community. A manifestation of this is the conceptualisation of the war that most of these women shared, rejecting violence as the means to resolving conflict and still maintaining that there is individual responsibility for the war among all the Lebanese.[31] 

The Corniche: Alternative Public Space

Writers’ rooms are then private spaces of resistance but are there public spaces of resistance? One could of course mention the two or three incidents during the war when residents from East and West Beirut gathered in large numbers, sixty thousand in one case, in order to demand the end of military activity and fighting. And, indeed, these demonstrations have significant value in signalling the desire to reject the war among large sectors of residents of Beirut. However, I will choose to focus on a less subtle public space of resistance. I mentioned in the first part of this essay that the 

downtown area of Beirut was the traditional meeting ground for the Lebanese that was lost with the destruction of the centre. Partially in response to that, the city developed its sea edge into a functioning urban space as one form of the persistence of the urban culture. The ‘Corniche’ as it is known locally, is a wide asphalted walkway that runs along the western seafront of Beirut for about six kilometres. The Corniche was even before the war a destination for strollers but the loss of the more established public spaces of Beirut in the centre allowed the Corniche to develop into a genuine public space, the most popular one in West Beirut. Due to its linear nature, the Corniche can cater to a variety of stationary or moving activities: some people go there to stroll or jog, cycle or roller skate, others stand at the edge gazing either at the sea or at other people, and some people use it for picnics.

The importance of the Corniche as a resistive space is that it was the only public space in Beirut that did not have a communal identity: throughout the civil war the Corniche retained the characteristics of a public space that was reinforced by the relocation of vendors that were displaced from the downtown to it. Several factors helped the Corniche retain that character, one of which was the fact that it was at the edge of Ras Beirut, one of the most mixed areas of Beirut that retained that nature throughout the war. The spatial nature of the Corniche also contributed to it preserving its nature as a public space: the fact that it was the only ‘breathing space’ of the city and its intersection with the sea meant that it cannot be contained with the same ease with which a closed neighbourhood can be. 


Naturally, the Corniche was mostly accessible to those living in the west part of the city. However, this did not make it less successful as a public space in which the public nature overcame any communal identity. Indeed, within weeks of the end of the war and the lifting of barriers between the different parts of the city, East Beirut residents began frequenting the Corniche long before they started going to restaurants or cafes in the other part of the city. The Corniche had resisted the war and was reborn as a public space for the city. 


Warspace is a space of de-constituted urban realities. It is a space, as we have seen, in which the city is eviscerated, and with that traumatic loss of its physical core it looses the stage on which its animating essence is given form. The city then is fractured and breaks into two extremities, that, in turn, will gradually break into smaller fragments, ultimately culminating with the almost complete separation of the household from the urban realm and its transformation into a self-sufficient space that further challenges the raison d'être of that realm. With that, the private realm permeates the public realm, in a complementary and parallel process to the seclusion of the private realm and its entrenchment within itself.

This urban space becomes a field for the exercise of a more ‘honest,’ and more brutal, form of power: not of the state’s ‘promise’ of the use of violence, but of the repetitive application of violence in varying forms and degrees. The city becomes a geography of violence in which its spatial structure is adjusted to the requirements of the perpetuation of that violence: tall buildings give a God’s eye view, and reach, for snipers, thus declaring the symbolic and physical supremacy of the militias, and the network of bridges and tunnels built to connect the city is used, in a manner of speaking, to disconnect the city through the frequency of kidnappings and murders that advertise the impossibility of crossing these bridges. The physical structure of the city is functionally reversed.

Under these conditions, solidarity, which is generally understood to develop in crisis situations in response to the temporary suspension, and not the disappearance, of the divisions that operate in a peacetime society, remains a myth. The manifestation of the militia power on the local level, both as the defenders and the oppressors of the locality, prevents the re-formation of social space and the constitution of solidarity. This dualistic nature of the immediate figure of authority as oppressor/defender produces an illusive distinction between the ‘innocent’ civilians, and those who are doing the fighting, that soon crumbles as a material basis for articulating protest as soon as the help of these figures is sought in meeting the requirements of everyday life. We have seen how the fighters also sustain their difference from the civilians that they come from within based on their disdain of the shamed bodies of those civilians who are not, unlike themselves, projects of future martyrs.

These practices reveal some of the workings of the power structure that war institutes. If we remember that one of the central theses of this work is that war becomes a system that produces the tools for its own perpetuation, we can understand the local manifestation of militia power as part of that process. However, when we say that war is an oppressive system, this does not mean that its manifestations are only oppressive. War as a system also provides for the needs of people, its people, but on its own terms and according to its definition of those needs. Thus, ‘emergency measures’ become the norm for conducting one’s life and meeting the requirements of everyday life. The justification lies in war presenting itself as a natural order which is reinforced by the same acts that seek to mitigate its impacts. 

I chose to approach warspace in terms of the anti-urban attitude that war develops. This attitude operates on two levels: the destruction of the physical and social qualities of the city, and dismantling the order of the modern city and replacing it with local orders. Resistance to war is then to be found in the resistance to its order: on the one hand, refusing to meet one’s need through the ‘alternatives’ that the war supplies, and one the other, developing cultural and urban forms of persistence that ensure the continuity of modern urban practices. It is both the writer continuing to write in her besieged house and the public space reasserting its public qualities. 

 Karl Sharro 2003 


Ajami, Fouad. Beirut: City of Regrets. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988.

Beydoun, Ahmad. What You’ve Known and Been Through: Pathways through the Lebanese War. Beirut: The Arab Cultural Centre, 1990. (In Arabic)

Beydoun, Ahmad. “Restoring Lebanese Culture.” In State and Society in Lebanon, Leila Fawaz, ed. Oxford: The Centre for Lebanese Studies and Tufts University, 1991.

Beydoun, Ahmad. The Dismembered Republic.. Beirut: An-nahar Publishing House, 1999. (In Arabic)

Diab, Hassan. Beirut: Reviving Lebanon’s Past, Westport Connecticut and London: Praeger, 1999.

El-Khazen, Farid. The Disintegration of the Lebanese Confessional System. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1986.

Fawaz, Leila Tarazi. Merchants and Migrants in Nineteenth Century Beirut. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1983.

Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Kabbani, Oussama. “Public Space as Infrastructure: The Case of the Postwar Reconstruction of Beirut.” In Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis eds., Munich, London, New York: Prestel, 1998.

Khalaf, Samir. “Contested Space and the Forging of New Cultural Identities.” In Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis eds., Munich, London, New York: Prestel. 1998

Khoury, Elias. Little Mountain. London: Collins Harvill, 1990.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

Petran, Tabitha. The Struggle over Lebanon. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987.

Rossi, Aldo. The Architecture of the City. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The MIT Press, 1982.

Sharara, Wadah. The Arrested City: Beirut between Kinship and Residence. Beirut: Oriental Publications House, 1985. (In Arabic.)

Tabet, Jad. 1996: The Reconstruction and Public Benefit Series. On Tradition and Modernity: The City of War and Memory of the Future, Beirut: Dar Al Jadid. (In Arabic)

[1] This interpretation of the war was originally developed by two leftist Lebanese sociologists, Ahmad Beydoun in What You’ve Known and Been Through: Pathways through the Lebanese War. Beirut: The Arab Cultural Centre, 1990 and Wadah Sharara in The Arrested City: Beirut  between Kinship and Residence. Beirut: Oriental Publications House, 1985. They were among a minority of Lebanese leftists in opposing involvement in the civil war, which the Lebanese Left participated heavily in.

[2] See Beydoun, 1990; Sharara, 1985; and Jad Tabet, On Tradition and Modernity: The City of War and Memory of the Future, Beirut: Dar Al Jadid, 1996. (In Arabic)

[3] In particular, I was influenced by Edward Soja’s account of the Los Angeles 1992 riots in Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions, Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.

[4] Fouad Ajami, Beirut: City of Regrets. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988, p. 16-17.

[5] Leila Tarazi Fawaz, Merchants and Migrants in Nineteenth Century Beirut. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 1983, p. 198.

[6] Ajami,  p. 18.

[7] Sharara, 1985 documents the Shiite migration to Beirut.

[8] Farid El-Khazen, presents an in-depth study of the Lebanese confessional system and its birth in The Disintegration of the Lebanese Confessional System. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1986.

[9] This particular nature of the confessional system is discussed by El-Khazen.

[10] Hassan Diab, Beirut: Reviving Lebanon’s Past, Westport Connecticut and London: Praeger, 1999 , p. 4.

[11] Tabet, p. 160-1.

[12] A very good source for an in-depth discussion of the civil war and the different groups that participated in it is Theodor Hanf’s Co-existence in wartime Lebanon : decline of a state and birth of a nation, London : I. B. Tauris, 1993.

[13] The busiest parts of the city centre were the Martyrs’ Square, also known as Bourj Square, a public square that served as a major transportation node, and the Souks, the traditional markets.

[14] Ahmad Beydoun, The Dismembered Republic. Beirut: An-nahar Publishing House, 1999. p. 268-9. (In Arabic)

[15] Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The MIT Press, 1982, p. 144.

[16] Because of its traditional fabric, the city centre was becoming difficult to manage and commercial development was moving away from the centre. In parallel, some governmental buildings had been relocated outside the centre, including the parliament. On many levels, it appears that a decentralisation process had been taking place for some time and some degeneration starting to appear. The war interrupted this process at an early point, apparently, so we have no physical documentation of the extent to which the centre was suffering. Both Tabet and Beydoun, The Dismembered Republic, mention this process without going into details.

[17] This process of population displacement is documented in Tabet, p. 81.

[18] Hanf.

[19] Oussama Kabbani, “Public Space as Infrastructure: The Case of the Postwar Reconstruction of Beirut.” In Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis eds., Munich, London, New York: Prestel, 1998, p.240.

[20] Samir Khalaf, “Contested Space and the Forging of New Cultural Identities.” In Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of a Modern City, Peter Rowe and Hashim Sarkis eds., Munich, London, New York: Prestel, 1998, p. 146.

[21] Samir Khalaf has studied and documented the communal redistribution in Beirut in Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of the Internationalisation of Human Contact. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002. p. 265 - 270. He conducted probably the only detailed study of the sectarian distribution in Beirut during the civil war (1983) and the attitudes of the residents of three different districts to the other communities.

[22] Using one element of Henri Lefebvre’s triad. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991.

[23] Rashid Ad-Daïf’s novel Techniques of Misery is a captivating account of the rituals of the self-sufficient existence during the war. Beirut: Riad El-Rayyes Books, 1989.

[24] Beydoun, 1990, p. 205.

[25] Tabitha Petran, The Struggle over Lebanon. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987, p. 383.

[26] Beydoun, 1990, p. 210.

[27] Ahmad Beydoun, “Restoring Lebanese Culture.” In State and Society in Lebanon, Leila Fawaz, ed. Oxford: The Centre for Lebanese Studies and Tufts University, 1991, p. 69.

[28] Ghada Al-Saman, Beirut Nightmares, London: Quartet Books, 1997. Original 1976.

[29] Miriam Cooke, War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War. London, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

[30] Ibid. P.3.

[31] Ibid. P. 69.