BETWEEN A REFUGE AND A BATTLEGROUND: BEIRUT'S DISCREPANT COSMOPOLITANISMS

Authors


  • This article results from a British Academy Small Grant (sg102042). Thanks to Barney Warf and the anonymous reviewers; to Klaus Dodds and Adam Ramadan for commenting on previous drafts; to Federico Calabrese, Simona Loi, and Lorenzo Trombetta for their help during fieldwork.

abstract.

Beirut has experienced cosmopolitanism and its opposite. It is a site of multicultural encounters and communal entrenchment: a refuge and a battleground. How and where does Beirut's cosmopolitan project turn into violence? The notion of “discrepant cosmopolitanism” provides two answers, blurring accepted distinctions between multicultural openness and communitarian entrenchment. First, openness and closure are not opposed but part of discrepant cosmopolitanisms immanent in urban space. Second, these discrepant cosmopolitanisms originate in Lebanon's encounter with colonial modernity. The making of the Lebanese nation-state has revolved around the sectarian spatiality of the ta'ifa (religious community), which produced contested but coexisting discourses and practices of rivalry and harmony. The rise of Beirut's international hotels in the 1960s, their destruction, and their role in contemporary urban redevelopment are treated here as embodiments of discrepant cosmopolitanisms. Within Beirut's recurrent tensions, a renegotiation of its cosmopolitan project could stem from a different relationship between the urban and national policies.

Ancillary