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.”

News

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