Lebanese Uprising: Crises and Futures - A Panel Discussion

Lebanese Uprising: Crises and Futures - A Panel Discussion

Thursday, 27 February 2020 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Investcorp Auditorium, Middle East Centre, St Antony's College
Dr Sophie Chamas (SOAS, University of London)
Dr Hicham Safieddine (King’s College London)
Joumana Talhouk (University of Oxford)
Professor Eugene Rogan (St. Antony's College, Oxford)
MEC Seminar

October 17, 2019 marked the beginning of the Lebanese uprising, the largest decentralised protests in the post-war Lebanon. Thousands of people overcame sectarian and political divides and gathered across the country to call for the removal of the elite political class. Trigged by a potential tax increase that would affect the working class, the protests soon became a denunciation of the structural flaws of the sectarian power-sharing system. This system had institutionalised clientelism, coming at the expense of social justice, state building and the rule of law, and facilitating the monopolisation of the economy by the powerful elite. Today, the imminent economic collapse many had predicted as an inevitable result of this system is unfolding, with a catastrophic wealth destruction affecting middle and lower classes.

This panel will examine the recent events within their socio-political and economic context, and provide space for discussion and learning for students and the general public interested in the politics of the Middle East.

Hicham Safieddine is Assistant Professor in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London, UK. He holds a PhD in Middle East Studies (U of Toronto), an MA in Political Science (York U, Canada), and an MA in Economics (University of Rochester, NY). He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (SUP, 2019), co-editor (w Jens Hanssen) of The Clarion of Syria: A Patriot’s Call to End the Civil War of 1860 (UCPress, 2019) and editor of Mahdi Amel, Arab Marxism, and National Liberation: Selected Writings, Trans. Angela Giordani (Brill, forthcoming 2020). In addition to his academic research and teaching, Hicham is the co-founder of e-zines Al-Akhbar English and The Legal Agenda’s English Edition.

Sophie Chamas is Senior Teaching Fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London. She recently completed her DPhil in Modern Middle East Studies at the University of Oxford. An anthropologist of social movements, her work focuses on the study of social movements, counter-culture, and political theory and discourse rooted in, focused on or related to the Middle East.

Joumana Talhouk earned her BA in Sociology and Anthropology in 2017 from the American University of Beirut (AUB). She continued to do research at AUB on the Lebanese government’s policy response to the Syrian refugee crisis, and more recently on refugee education. Joumana was the president of the AUB Secular Club, and was also an elections coordinator with Beirut Madinati, a grassroots campaign for municipal elections. Upon graduation, Joumana co-founded Mada, a political youth network across various universities in Lebanon. She is also a member of a feminist cooperative working for social, economic, environmental, and gender justice. Joumana will pursue an MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford in 2020.