Jan is a History PhD student at St John’s College, University of Cambridge. He holds an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University of Beirut and a BA in History from the University of Freiburg. He is currently an affiliate at the Orient-Institut-Beirut and the American University of Beirut while undertaking archival research for his dissertation. Expanding on his MA thesis, which traced the history of a working-class neighbourhood in Beirut and how urban planners, social scientists, and bourgeois newspapers shaped its spatial production and subsequent destruction, his dissertation looks at the larger political economy of Beirut’s urban space, c. 1943-1975. To combine academic research and public scholarship, he organizes political studies tours in Lebanon and writes for various German outlets, among them Zeit Online and Bauwelt.
The Political Economy of Beirut’s Urban Space, 1943-1975
Employing approaches of urban, social, and economic history, my dissertation examines Lebanon’s political economy following the country’s independence in 1943 until the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. It explores the ways in which the Greater Beirut area developed and transformed during this time by drawing on Arabic, French, and English sources found in Lebanese, European, and American archives and on oral history interviews. The pivotal role of urban space for Lebanon’s political economy, visible in real estate investments, social housing projects, or the development of informal neighbourhoods, but also in landlord-renter relations, lies at the centre of this project. Moreover, the dissertation presents a history of Beirut deeply embedded in and shaped by regional and global flows of capital and ideas and attempts to historicize the financialization of Beirut’s urban space and the ensuing shortages of affordable housing.