From 1975 to 1990, Lebanon endured one of the most protracted and bloody civil wars of the twentieth century. Sune Haugbolle’s timely and often poignant book chronicles the battle over ideas that emerged from the wreckage of that war. While the Lebanese state encouraged forgetfulness and political parties created sectarian interpretations of the war through cults of dead leaders, intellectuals and activists – inspired by the example of truth and reconciliation movements in different parts of the world – advanced the idea that confronting and remembering the war was necessary for political and cultural renewal. Through an analysis of different cultural productions – media, art, literature, film, posters, and architecture – the author shows how the recollection and reconstruction of political and sectarian violence that took place during the war have helped in Lebanon’s healing process. He also shows how a willingness to confront the past influenced the popular uprising in Lebanon after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Prologue: a hiatus of history; 1. Remembering a war of selves and others; 2. Culture, politics, civil war; 3. Discourses on amnesia and reconstruction: memory in the 1990s; 4. Nostalgias; 5. Inside violence; 6. Sectarian memory cultures; 7. Truth telling in the Independence Intifada; Conclusion.
"With great analytical skill, Haugbolle presents a fascinating account of the different ways in which the Lebanese remember their civil wars in opposition to an official stance that, far from seeking truth and reconciliation, attempts to distort the memories and even obliterate them from popular culture." - Michael Johnson, Former Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Sussex and the author of All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in Lebanon
"Readers come away with a vivid picture of the chaotic cultural legacy of the fighting.... More satisfying is the discussion of the demographic and social reconfiguration of Beirut that took place during the war... along with a brief but cogent analysis of 'the cult of Bashir Jumyail'.... Recommended." - F. H. Lawson, Mills College, Choice
"Haugbolle must be commended for exposing multiple memory cultures that lie outside of the officially sanctioned narrative, through the creative use of multiple archives. He also deserves praise for his sensitive approach to the symbolism of urban space, moving beyond his own interpretations as an outsider and scholar and exploring their meaning through the eyes of neighborhood representatives. This book is a pioneering work in social memory and a history of cultural and intellectual debates about memory." - H-Net Reviews
"Haugbolle's study is very engaging and insightful. Its value rests on his ability to interweave political and cultural histories within the framework of an excellent discussion of memory, nationalism and sectarianism. Such cultural histories are a rarity in Middle Eastern studies, and his work fills a gap in the modern history of Lebanon." - Ramazan Hakki Oztan, University of Utah, Middle East Policy