The Politics of Property in Planning: Hezbollah's Reconstruction of Haret Hreik (Beirut, Lebanon) as Case Study

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Abstract

This research looks at post-2006-war reconstruction of the southern suburbs of Beirut under the auspices of Hezbollah (the Islamic resistance movement in Lebanon). The project was widely acclaimed as an alternative to current neoliberal planning practices in the Middle East and beyond. Based on a critical reading of the conception of property issues in this planning project, the article argues that this reconstruction presents a new geometry or alternative to the mainstream configuration of neoliberal urbanism, rather than a departure from its precepts. The reason for this is that the adopted language of property corresponds closely with the conception of property advocated by neoliberal planning, one that enshrines private, individual ownership as sacred and desirable and that works to strengthen its model in the city. I further argue that the ‘neoliberal planning regime’ within which Hezbollah's urban intervention occurs is not accidental; rather, it is necessary for the party's control of this space's future and for consolidating its territory in the city. It is hence expected that Hezbollah's planning in the city will produce the same decried effects as neoliberal planning elsewhere in the city rather than usher an innovative, progressive model of planning.

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