Beirut’s urban scars: A dissonant heritage

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    Beirut’s urban scars: A dissonant heritage

    After a brutal 15 year civil war, Lebanon, and specifically its capital Beirut, underwent a historic reconstruction process lead by a semi-private company, Solidere. The reconstruction erased much of the city’s heritage in order to hide all remnants of war and to present the city as an emblem of modernity. In line with a state sponsored amnesia, that discourages the discussion of war to sustain the existing political discourse, the Lebanese are still suffering from a segregated society, due, largely to a lack of reconciling the war. However, a handful of buildings managed to survive the destruction of the historic city centre, as a result of conflict between their shareholders. These buildings, or urban scars, bear witness to the war and remind locals of the turbulent past by presenting them with bullet holes and shelling marks. Often abandoned and derelict, these buildings await an uncertain future. In this dissertation I argue that these buildings present locals with stark reminders of the dangers of war and that they have the potential to reconcile the past. I do so by looking at two case studies; Burj El-Murr and Beit Beirut to understand local perceptions of the urban scar and the existing discourse of memorialisation. This will inform future conduct with these sites of dissonant heritage.

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