Starting over the next few months I will be conducting a number of bilingual interviews on Lebanon with people that I admire who live in Lebanon or who have left Lebanon.
Since 1990 Lebanon has been experiencing what is misleadingly called a postwar period. The warlords that built their status and their capital (financial, symbolic, social, cultural) during and due to the civil war (1975-1990) inherited and built a state that would complete the destructions of the war era through privatisations of public assets and common lands, submission to the Assad regime’s military rule, abandomnent of southern Lebanon to the Israeli occupation, and sectarianisation of public life.
The years between 2000 and 2008 saw the liberation of southern Lebanon (2000, from Israel), the liberation of the rest of Lebanon (2005, from Assad), the 2006 war, the waves of assassinations that started with prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and included anti-Assad figures such as Samir Kassir, George Hawi and Gebran Tueni as their victims and the 2008 conflict during which Hezbollah militarily invaded Beirut and Mount Lebanon.
The post-2011 uprisings landscape also affected Lebanon in three major ways: the influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the war, the military invasion of Hezbollah into Syrian lands to support the Assad regime, and the flight of Gulf and diaspora financial capital that had sustained the largely services- and financial-based economy of the country. These years also witnessed parliament illegally extending its own terms multiple times until the election of former warlord Michel Aoun to the presidency (through an agreement with former warlord and rival Samir Geagea) in 2016. We also saw in 2015 the largest protest movement – the ‘You Stink’ movement – until 2019.
The years 2019 and 2020 have so far witnessed the October 2019 revolution, devastating wildfires, the economic collapse that started in 2019 and continues to this day, the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic as well as the catastrophic explosion on the 4th of August 2020 at the port of Beirut.
Two entire generations – mine, the millennials, and Gen-Zers – those that are are also called (and also misleadingly) the postwar generations have since defined ourselves through trauma and loss, fear and insecurity. At the same time, we led and/or participated in the country’s largest anti-government and anti-sectarian protests in recent memory.
Many of our friends have left Lebanon, iconic neighborhoods such as Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael have been destroyed, and the warlords who rule over us remain in their seats.
How are we navigating these feelings? How do we cope with the trauma? What are we doing to support one another? And is there anything that we can learn from those who came before us?
Brief timeline of Hummus For Thought
Hummus For Thought started out as a post-2011 revolutions blog, being launched in early 2012. Through the years, it grew into a blog with tens of thousands of Facebook followers until, that is, I deleted the page. Since 2016 it has been a platform for occasional publications focusing on Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.
From now on, it will be a platform for interviews on Lebanon with people who live in Lebanon or who have left Lebanon.
How to support
As this is a parallel project to my other project, The Fire These Times, I am asking people who can afford it to support using the same websites.
Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.