Towards a People-Centered Recovery of Post-blast Beirut, Lebanon
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies
Workshop 4 of the Stanford Global Studies Research Workshop series: Neoliberal Heritagescapes: Culture and Urbanism in Post-Conflict Cities
About the talk:
On the 4th of August 2020, the huge explosion that detonated in the Port of Beirut killed more than 200 people and wounded 6,000, and left dozens missing. 300,000 homes and livelihoods were affected in several neighborhoods adjacent to the Port. The Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut mobilized in response to the blast to support efforts on the ground and to initiate its own work upon site visits and early assessment of the situation. During early observation in the field, it was possible to identify some of the typical patterns associated with earlier post-disaster responses. The state institutions played at best a subdued role and failed to position themselves as the custodians of a common good. The challenge of coordinating a people-centered recovery was therefore massive. Building on its experiences in urban policy advocacy, mapping, and post-war reconstruction studies, the Beirut Urban Lab initiated multiple interventions that challenge the dominant framework of post-blast reconstruction and redefine it along the lines of a holistic and inclusive recovery. The Lab worked on three tracks, in coordination with multiple partners: The Observatory of the Reconstruction, Neighborhood-Scale Recovery Interventions, and Visioning the City in the Post-Blast Period. The Neighborhood-Scale Recovery focused on Karantina, which serves as a first case study for the initiation of a bottom-up, inclusive and people-centered recovery. The keynote lecture will share the work related to the strategic framework of recovery for Karantina and will reflect on the experience with community engagement towards a people centered recovery.
About the speaker:
Howayda Al-Harithy is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the American University of Beirut (AUB), where she is currently serving as Founding Director of the School of Design. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Oregon School of Design, a Master of Science in Architecture from MIT, and a PhD in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University.
She is also a Research Director at the Beirut Urban Lab. Her research focuses on urban heritage with emphasis on the theoretical debate on heritage construction and consumption related to identity building and post-war reconstruction in the Arab world. Her current work conceptualizes urban recovery in relation to processes of historical editing, urban trauma, and protracted displacement.
She is widely published with over 50 articles, book chapters, and reports in leading journals and refereed books. She is the editor of and contributor to Lessons in Post-War Reconstruction: Case Studies from Lebanon in the Aftermath of the 2006 War (Routledge, 2010) and a forthcoming book entitled Urban Recovery: Intersecting Displacement with Reconstruction (Routledge 2021)