Project Synopses

08/11/2017: Another Place Beirut: A binaural audiowalk created between Berlin, Beirut, Damascus and other cities, mapping ideas of exile and belonging in the city. The walk is a performance by Victoria Lupton and Doha Hassan, sound by Tim Bamber. After touring several cities, it premiered in Beirut on November 8, 2017 at Metro Al Madina, supported and organized by RLS Beirut. Another Place was originally commissioned by LIFT and Royal Court Theatre in London, 2016.

You can find the audiowalk here.

30/11/2017 – 03/12/2017: MINA: Artistic Ports and Passages:  A cultural space showcasing the use of new artistic practices of Syrian artists in the diaspora. The Art Forum held by the Ettijahat-Independent Culture in Beirut from November 30th to December 3rd, 2017 celebrates Syrian artists in Syria and its neighboring countries, including theatrical, cinematic, visual and musical performances; The forum was supported by the RLS Beirut.

An English article on MINA here.

October 2017: "wa akhiran musiba” - "At Last, a Tragedy“:  A short documentary film by Maya Shourbaji (Syria 2017), world premiered at the 69th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin in 2018, supported by RLS Beirut.

“I cannot resist, cope with, or mourn a tragedy that I do not see. I search for it in memory, among clear and faded pictures, in Damascus and Beirut, in the shadows of my close friend Louay’s stories, between my prisons and his own.”

Find the trailer here.

July 2017- November 2018: Website “A Maid for each”: Following the documentary movie “A maid for each” (2016) by Lebanese film director Maher Abi Samra,  RLS Beirut and Public Works together with Maher Abi Samra are creating a website on migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. Based on the research for the movie, but also exceeding that format, the website focuses on four crucial dynamics: the recruitment agency, the law and political power, the relationship between the employer and the maid, and the maid itself.

December 2017 – February 2018: Bidayat Issue No. 18 :  On the occasion of the centenary of the Russian October Revolution of 1917, Bidayat releases an issue on revolution in different times and places, looking back on the events since the Arab Spring of 2011, as well as the Russian October Revolution itself. Supported by RLS Beirut.

Find the issue online here.

July 2017 – August 2018: Comic “Feminist Scribbles”: Artist and Gender Studies scholar Maya el Helou is creating a new and simple medium of communication for issues of gender and sexuality in Arabic through visual comics. The Gender Scribbles Book Publication Project, that is supported by RLS Beirut since July 2017 is a collection of 50 comic art works that address topics like male privilege, sexual harassment, feminism and social injustice.

 19/01-20/01/2018: “Feminism in Crisis? Gender and the Arab Public Sphere”: A conference on feminism and gender in the public sphere after the 2011 popular uprisings and subsequent civil wars, held at the American University of Beirut on January 19th/20th, 2018, supported by RLS Beirut. The conference aims at giving voice to intersectional and multilayered approaches to feminist perspectives within social movements, in public and political institutions, in media and art and in an environment of war, conflict and displacement.

More information on the conference here.

November 2017- November 2018 “Understanding the Bodily and Psychic Life of Refugee Women in Lebanon”: A study by CRTDA on Syrian refugee women's social relationships in their various communities in Lebanon, gaining insight into issues linked to agency, privacy and inter-familial dynamics. Focusing on the women's social capital, the study also aims at creating a framework that can help establishing a more targeted approach for humanitarian and development programs. Supported by RLS Beirut.

November 2017 – March 2018: “Workshops on the 2018 Lebanese Parliamentary Elections”:  In the light of the upcoming parliamentary elections in May 2017, RLS Beirut together with different leftist activists organized workshops on the Lebanese Election law in different regions of Lebanon.

November 2017 – November 2018: “Competition for Housing Alternatives in Beirut”:  Following the new rent law of 2014 that put the housing security of over a quarter of Beirut's residents at risk, Public Works and other organisations started to research the impact of market-driven developments and policies on residential rights and the creation of social and spatial injustice, that often resulted in the displacement of low and middle-income families. Building on its extensive research conducted in 2015-2016 about housing, Public Works is working towards a housing competition that would act as a platform to advocate for affordable housing and the right of long-time residents to remain in the city. The competition seeks innovative and alternative ideas that challenge the dominating model of urban development and address the displacement of low and middle income residents. It is an open call for architects, urbanists, and planners to articulate a framework of intervention that would respond to the challenge of affordable housing and alternative building practices that preserve the city's social fabric and cater for low and middle income inhabitants.

December 2017 – December 2018: “Songs of the Departed”:  A documentary by Majd Al Hamwi about the musical stories of Syrian musicians and hakawatis (traditional folk story tellers) in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. The film explores their traditional folk art practices, how they are being passed on to the next generation and their impact on the social environment in the context of war and displacement.

More on the movie here.

April 2018 –ongoing: Journal of Labour: A bi-annual journal in Arabic exploring different topics and aspects of labour in Lebanon as the public employment sector, the employment of foreigners in Lebanon, migrant domestic work etc. The journal will be in published in Arabic by RLS Beirut Office.

November 2017 – November 2018: “The Conditions of Lebanese Workers in the Business and the Service Sector”: A study on the pervasive violations against Lebanese worker's rights, Lebanese social security standards as well as health and safety conditions. Conducted by MARSAD, a “platform of research, implementation, monitoring and observation of cultural policies in the MENA region”, that aims at exposing violations committed by the employers through documentation, press reports and presence on various media platforms. Supported by RLS Beirut

December 2017 – November  2018: “Prostitution in Lebanon”: There is little awareness and interest in or outside of academia in the legal complexities of human trafficking and prostitution, state regulations as well as the vulnerability of regulated and unregulated sex workers in Lebanon. This study's main goal is to collect information on the Lebanese sex industry and the involvement of General Security in sex trafficking while choosing a distinctive sex positive approach that allows for the sex worker's own agency to be heard. In an attempt to depict a complete picture, this study by May Abi Samra is based on interviews with women working in the sex industry, the Anti-Human-Trafficking and Morals Protection Bureau under the Interior Ministry and General Security personnel.

An Arabic article on the study can be found here.

October 2017 – April 2018: “Beauty and the Yield – Cosmetic Surgery as Neoliberal Entrepreneurship in Lebanon”: A study by Elia El Khazen, that seeks to analyse the practices of cosmetic surgery in Lebanon in relation to their socio-economic context. While gender-based power dynamics play a substantial role in the beauty industry, the focus lies here on the notions of investment in one's self or one's image that are closely tied to the ideologies of neoliberal entrepreneurship in the middle and lower classes in Lebanon. Key support comes from the banking system that, as the study impressively highlights, has offered and continues to offer lucrative loans for plastic surgery.

July 5th 2018: Film Screening “To Parchim”: A documentary (2018) by German film makers Johanna Huth and Julia Gechter that explores the parallel experiences of 9 year old Mounir from Syria and 91 year old Ulla, who had been forced to flee from East Prussia as a young woman. The short film tackles questions of trauma, war and loss and the difficulty of finding a home in a strange country.

The trailer of the movie can be found here.

April – July 2018: “Organising for Social Justice- Migrant and Solidarity Movements”: Exploring alternative possibilities of cross-border solidarity, care and support, this project's goal is to create a communications network between activist groups and initiatives of migrant and solidarity movements in Beirut, Athens and Berlin. It argues that through the exchange of knowledge and applied practices, these movements could hold the potential to transform the international status quo.

The podcasts can be found here.

November 2017 – ongoing: “Roundtable on Socio-Economic Rights”: Organized by RLS Beirut and Lebanon Support, these roundtables seek to put social and economic rights on the agenda of public discussions and initiatives. Until now, two roundtables were held, one on “the Taxation System in Lebanon: Between Collection and Justice” with speaker Ziad Abdel Samad (Nov 2017), the second on “Fault Lines of Mobilisation for Worker's Rights” with speakers Dr. Lea Bou Khater and Mohammad Zbeeb (March 2018)

March 2018 – ongoing: “Statelessness”: One of RLS Beirut Office’s main tasks is to make statelessness visible and support counter measures. While on the one hand, we want to shed light on the topic in the context of our region (especially Lebanon and Iraq), we also approach the topic globally and cooperate with  UNHCR in their campaign on “Ending statelessness”, as well as the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southern Africa. In Lebanon, we work with the NGO Frontiers Ruwad on the topic.

November 2017 – November 2018  Study: “Non-Sectarian and Progressive Political Actors in Lebanon”: Following up the “You Stink” movement resulting from the garbage crisis that hit Beirut in 2015, this study by Miriam Younes and Maya al Helou takes a close look at political activism in Lebanon, at the possibilities of organizing outside of sectarian boundaries and on the ongoing transformations since 2015. Based on interviews with 12 active members of different collective groups, it highlights the implications of their survival or disintegration in an emerging neo-liberal Lebanese system.

October 2017 – September 2018: Study: “Contemporary Non-Sectarian and Progressive Actors in Iraq”: Since the war in 2003, research and media representation of Iraq and has been dictated by the notion of a highly sectarian society and political system. This study by Dr Rima Majed, who has visited Iraq several times, aims at shedding light on Iraq's political landscape with its contemporary non-sectarian and progressive political actors and their agenda of political freedom, transparency and democratic rights.

November 2017 – June 2018: Theatre Project with the “Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers”: “The Journey”: Approximately 250.000 migrant domestic workers live and work in Lebanon in often precarious condition, where the lack of social and legal security gives rise to exploitation and abuse. In cooperation with Zoukak Theatre Company and the “Alliance for Migrant Domestic Workers”, RLS Beirut is aiming at making these dynamics visible through the medium of theatre. Written and performed by migrant domestic workers, this production seeks to strengthen their networks, as well as creating a safe space for exchange and contact with the audience representing multiple groups of the Lebanese civil society.

October 2017 – ongoing:  Workshops with the “Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers”: A series of workshops organized by RLS Beirut in cooperation with the “Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers” dealing with legal issues, women’s rights, and possibilities of organisation and activism for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.

May 2018 – June 2018: Webseries “Zyara”: Since 2014, the humanitarian arts Association “Home of Cine-Jam”, produces every year one season of the highly acclaimed webseries “Zyara.” Twelve episodes portraying individuals and their stories through an artistic and poetic lense, in an act of resistance and advocacy for social change. Season Three is supported by RLS Beirut.

More on Zyara here.

May – July 2018 Film “Underdown”: Written and directed by Liliane Rahhal, the movie “Underdown”, set in Beirut, tells the stories of the struggling Palestinian cab driver Abou Housam who lives in his car, the homeless Syrian boy Ali who calls the streets his freedom, and Samya, an unmarried Lebanese woman living with her family in a tiny decaying apartment. A portrayal of hardship and struggle, the movie conveys hope against all odds. The movie is supported by RLS Beirut.

Download project review.

February – April 2018 Film “Ibrahim”: With “Ibrahim” writer and director Lina Alabed takes an intimate look at her own biography and the person she has become after her father, secret member of the Palestinian Revolutionary Council disappears and leaves his wife and 5 children behind. Retracing not only her own story but also the history of Palestinian diaspora and resistance, she breaks a silence that had been surrounding her family for almost 30 years. The movie is supported by RLS Beirut.

Download project review.

May – October 2018: The Creative Memory Of the Syrian Revolution”: This online project aims at documenting all forms of intellectual expression, both artistic and cultural, during the time of the Syrian revolution, by writing, recording, and collecting stories of the Syrian people, and the experiences through which they have regained meaning of their social, political, and cultural lives. The website also aims to enhance the impact of the artistic Syrian resistance, to reinforce its position in the revolution, to archive and spread the messages it expresses, and to help establish networks between groups and individuals,as well as links to the outside world. The project is supported by RLS Beirut.

The website can be found here.

April – November 2018 Film “A feeling Greater Than Love”: Mary Jirmanus Saba revisits in her critically acclaimed directorial debut the pre-civil war events in Lebanon in the early 1970s, that held the potential for popular revolution and change, but were swallowed by the turmoil of the subsequent civil war. It's a critical perspective on the past that offers important implications for the protest movements from 2011 to the present. RLS Beirut supported the premiere of the movie in Beirut as well as different discussion rounds around the movie.

Find the trailer of the movie here.

June 2018 – June 2019 “Our right to know” On enforced disappearances: In cooperation with RLS Beirut, the “League for Citizenship” is organising roundtables and workshops with the “Committee for the Families of the Kidnapped and the Disappeared”, exchanging expertise and strategies. The goal of the project is the publication of a paper that investigates the situation of Syrian disappeared and their families.

May 2018 – May 2019 Film Project: This project takes a close look at the lives and forms of political expression of mostly young people in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, the three countries covered by RLS Beirut. Choosing film as a medium with its potential to create a language and critical exchange across borders, it aims at supporting the participants in their reflection of their own political believes, their political realities and environments. The project includes a mentoring program and financial support for the film production.