Travel diary, Beirut

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A small group of the T&P collective composed of Kenza Sefrioui, Giovanna Tanzarella and Claudine Dussollier have met a number of Lebanese and Syrian civil society actors and intellectuals in Beirut in October 2013.

The seriousness of the situation and its complexity with regards to the issues of the political forces involved and present in Syria, as well as the presence of a million of Syrian refugees in Lebanon was the reason behind this visit and inspired the questions asked to the different people encountered in Beirut.

The Mansion

The Mansion

First of all, the objective was to identify the most important elements that define the situation in Lebanon, Syria and the region as well as South-South and North-South relations. Secondly, we aimed at analysing the current context, the development of Euro-med relations and exchanges.
On the basis of this “overview”, the exchanges were more prospective in order to identify the specific role of intellectuals, politicians, artists and civil society in general. According to the place they occupied in society, it was very interesting to understand their priorities and the reasons behind them.
To the question of how each and every one of them foresee the situation in the five coming years, the answers were utopian, poetic and humanistic…it is difficult to be categorical on the subject. None of them think that the Syrian conflict will be resolved in the coming two or three years.
From the answers we gathered, it seems that despite the fact that civil societies have little control on military, politic or terrorist realities, they have a role to play in the educational and cultural fields as essential vectors for preparing younger generations for a better and more democratic future.

This week was also the opportunity to discover new places managed by artists, offering spaces for exhibitions, work and creativity in Lebanon. An interesting example is the MANSION (www.agendaculturel.com/Art_Mansion_Une_maison_abandonnee_reinvestie_en_lieu_d_art) …, as well as to meet Lebanese cultural associations such as ASSABIL, Friends of Public Libraries (www.assabil.com/index/) or the Cultural Mouvement Antelias.

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