Sites of Commemoration in Lebanon: Towards a Better Understanding of the Past
In this project, forumZFD and the Lebanese Association for History (LAH) support teachers in exploring commemoration sites with their students. A commemoration site is any public site that is linked to the history of the civil war like a statute or a building left damaged by the war. Given that different people in Lebanon have very different narratives about the Lebanese civil war (1975 – 1990), there is no agreed and official curriculum for teaching about this period in Lebanese schools. The pilot project on sites of commemoration provides teachers with methods of exploring the history of the civil war together with their students. By doing research about specific commemoration sites students are able to better understand the Lebanese past and are encouraged to critically reflect upon different narratives of the past.
Learning how to explore commemoration sites
More than 20 teachers from public and private secondary schools take part in the project. They receive training on research skills, notably in oral history, as well as communication and documentation skills. Each of the teachers then explores with students a specific commemoration site. Among the commemorations sites chosen are, for example, the "Hope for Peace" monument in Yarze.
The groups of students and teachers then do research around one site, for example, by looking for information about the site on the internet, in archives or talking to local people about it. They compile a small presentation about each site in the end, which shows the history of the site and the way people relate to it. The presentations were shown as an exhibition in a public event at Barbir hopsital in Beirut at the end of the project.
The project is part of forumZFD's work on Dealing with the Past. "With this project, we want to support teachers in teaching students how to think critically by exploring commemoration sites of the civil war.", explains Nina Strumpf, project manager, at forumZFD. "Students and teachers can develop a better understanding of Lebanon's past and different narratives about it.”
04-20-2017 On 29 April 2017, the former and presently closed Barbir hospital in Beirut came to life again: Students from twelve schools from various parts of the country presented information, films and artworks on various commemoration sites and important events of the Lebanese civil war. Visitors could s read more
04-18-2017 An interview with the editor of the satirical magazine ad-Dabbour and landlord of forumZFD in Beirut read more
As a part of its programme on Dealing with the Past, forumZFD supported the compilation of a study entitled "The Power of Remembrance: Political Parties, Memory and Learning about the Past in Lebanon". The study, compiled by Dr. Mara Albrecht and Dr. Basel Akar, investigates how political parties in Lebanon use the memory of the Lebanese civil war that took place between 1975 and 1990 in the educational and political field. read more
However, even during the Lebanese civil war some people refused to use violence as a means of carrying out conflict, resorting to nonviolent activism instead. These experiences build a starting point for historical research. In cooperation with the Permanent Peace Movement, the Imam Sadr Foundation and Umam Documentation and Research, we collected examples of effective nonviolent action. A film entitled "Come to me" documents the findings; it is available in Arabic and with English subtitles. read more
Recent years have seen an upsurge in activities in the field of Dealing with the Past in Lebanon but implementing organisations and activists frequently do not know the others’ projects and rarely work together. Together with its partners, forumZFD has mapped all initativese addressing conflicts in Lebanon which have been implemented since 1990. The mapping is accessible to the public online. read more
There is no national curriculum for teaching history in schools in Lebanon. The handbook "The Memory of the War", compiled by forumZFD, collects narratives from different sides of the conflict alongside other material about the civil war such as interviews, newspaper articles, pictures and exercises. Teachers are trained on how to use the handbook in the classroom. read more