Cultural Policies in Lebanon: Cultural Institutions between State and Society (Nadia von Maltzahn)

This project examines the relationship between cultural policies, cultural production and the public sphere, that is the relationship between political frameworks, institutional actors, cultural players and society.

It deals with the question of how cultural policies and cultural actors contribute to the creation of a public sphere in Lebanon, by examining the role of different types of institutions involved in cultural and knowledge production. Can cultural institutions play a unifying role in a fragmented nation? What does it mean to speak about cultural policies in the Lebanese context? And what do cultural practices tell us about the relationship between state and society?

Cultural policies define a vision for culture, and provide frameworks for institutional practice to translate this vision on the ground. Cultural policies also determine what role the state plays in cultural production. Cultural actors move within and beyond these policies, constantly pushing the boundaries. Spaces and the public play a central role in cultural work. This project takes three cultural institutions (the Lebanese National Library, the Sursock Museum, and the Baalbeck Festival) and investigates the power dynamics at play and the arenas in which frameworks are determined and policies are made.

What roles do these spaces and institutions play in the public sphere, how do they mediate between state and society? What are their legal bases, and to what extent do they matter? What is the importance of cultural spaces for cultural and knowledge production? The selected case studies showcase the role of cultural institutions, through which the meaning of the term cultural policy can be further defined.

Author: Dr. Nadia von Maltzahn