The Lebanese Intifada of October 17: Perspectives from Within (Birgit Schäbler)


A new joint research project in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung under the leadership of OIB director Birgit Schäbler and Armin Hasemann, head of FES, deals with the mass protests of autumn 2019, which in terms of size, diversity and geographical distribution represent a novelty in Lebanon's recent history. While the earlier movements, such as those led by political parties in 2005, or those led by NGOs and civil society organizations were limited to Beirut in 2015, the 2019 protests had a mass character and covered the entire country. Young women played a special role. The publication from this project deals with the underlying crises and the manifold appropriations of public spaces through art and discussion, the relationship between national currency and the US dollar, issues of the constitution and the political system,  and gender dynamics.


Kick-Off Meeting

Friday, 26 June, 2020

The research project started in March 2020 with a group of researchers conducting field research and drafting a collaborative project that will result in an original analysis of the Lebanese Intifada of October 2019. The aim of the project is to analyze and document the 2019 uprisings in Lebanon and the unfolding political, economic and financial crises and finally, to publish a book about the findings. The contributors were selected with the aim of conceptualizing these developments and their repercussions on the political system, civic engagement and socio-economic relations. In the kick-off meeting and interior workshops taken place at the OIB, this group of researchers engaged in a discussion on their different approaches and results on the historical Lebanese and Middle Eastern dimension of the protests, the constituent groups of the movement and questions of leadership, aspects of gender, the role of youth and social media, the reactions of political elites and parties, the banking crisis as well as cultural aspects of the Intifada including slogans and artistic expressions. The question of neighborhoods, which are at the core of our research profile at the OIB, were explored in different aspects, as was the appropriation of public space. 

"Women, Banks, and Politics" and "Beirut`s Public Spaces" – Two public events of the Research Group The Lebanese Intifada of October 17: Perspectives from Within

Thursday, 15 October, 2020 / Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In two consecutive public events, the research group shared insights into the projects of its participants and discussed its work with the audience. Among others, the workshop Women, Banks, and Politics: Making Sense of the Intifada discussed topics like the participation of women in the Movement, banking, corrupt and trust in the Lebanese currency, the contribution of artists to the protests, as well as constitutional and systemic issues. Beirut`s Public Spaces, the second public event, was conceived as a public research seminar and dealt with the history of public space and its multifaceted (re)appropriation by protesters in discussions and art platforms.

The contributing researchers are:

Jasmin Lilian Diab – The birth of an inclusive state from “feminist consciousness”

Jasmin Diab is a Canadian-Lebanese researcher, author, manager and consultant in the areas of Conflict, Migration, Refugee and Gender Studies. She is a research associate at the AUB Global Health Institute and part of a MENA Regional Focal Point on Migration of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. She has published on issues such as Gender, Movement and Safety as well as Refugee Rights and Socio-political empowerment in the Thawra.

Sally Farhat – Gender Differences in Media Uses and Trust

Sally Farhat has an MA in Multimedia Journalism and is involved in research and publishing projects with two professors at the Lebanese University, Claudia Kozman and Jad Melki, on gender differences in media literacy and applications in the Lebanese intifada.

Zeina Tohme – Marching Women: Grassroots Nationalism Shaping Collective Identity

Zeina Tohme is a professor of communication, marketing and research methodology at the Lebanese University. Her research is geared towards post-conflict peace building, intercultural mediation and media studies. She is also a member of different research groups working on promoting dialogue and cultural and religious diversity and has numerous publications related to gender issues, peace building and intercultural studies.

Maximilian Felsch – Can Lebanon’s Consociational  System be reformed?

Maximilian Felsch is an Associate Professor and head of the political science department at Haigazian University, Beirut. His publications are dealing with international, regional and transnational relations of the contemporary Middle East.

Rayan Georges Haykal – Lira vs. Dollar: A love-hate relationship in times of unrest

Rayan Haykal is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the University of La Sagesse, Beirut. His research is oriented towards economic policies, media funding and religious competition as a tool to fight violent extremism. 
He has published extensively and is currently working on a study on People’s attitude towards war and violence for the ICRC. 

Yakub Jajcay – Banks and the Intifada

Yakub Jajcay is a Ph.D. student at the Department of History and Archaeology of AUB, where he does research on the social and economic history of Lebanon in the 20th Century as well as migration and social determinants of political processes.

Saher Kammoun & Sami Ofeich – Lebanon’s October Intifada: A rights’ based movement facilitating citizenship

Saher Kammoun is a graduate student in Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Balamand where he is doing research on how the clientelist and sectarian systems produce and facilitate the Gramscian theory of consent in Lebanon. Together with Prof. Sami Ofeich, the Chairperson of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs, he is publishing on Arab uprisings, citizenship and stereotypes.

Cherine Yazbeck – Emergence of a More Inclusive Cultural Scene

Cherine Yazbeck has been working as a Lebanese journalist at the forefront of the intifada covering daily news, civilian stories and political developments for ABC Australia. She has published three books on Lebanese cultural, social and artistic aspects and has exhibited her work in venues in Lebanon, France and Britain over the past 15 years.

Serge Yazigi – From “Solidere’s Zone” to Wasat al Balad

Serge Yazigi has more than 12 years of experience as expert on internationally funded urban regeneration projects, including expertise in strategic urban planning, sustainable planning, urban and local development. He is also an active member of many CSOs and was a founding member of the ICOMOS Lebanese Association.