In Visions of Beirut Hatim El-Hibri explores how the creation and circulation of images have shaped the urban spaces and cultural imaginaries of Beirut. Drawing on fieldwork and texts ranging from maps, urban plans, and aerial photographs to live television and drone-camera footage, El-Hibri traces how the technologies and media infrastructure that visualize the city are used to consolidate or destabilize regimes of power. Throughout the twentieth century, colonial, economic, and military mapping projects helped produce and govern Beirut’s spaces. In the 1990s, the imagery of its post-civil war downtown reconstruction cast Beirut as a site of financial investment in ways that obscured its ongoing crises. During and following the 2006 Israel/Hizbullah war, Hizbullah’s use of live television broadcasts of fighting and protests along with its construction of a war memorial museum at a former secret military bunker demonstrate the tension between visualizing space and the practices of concealment. Outlining how Beirut’s urban space and public life intertwine with images and infrastructure, El-Hibri interrogates how media embody and exacerbate the region’s political fault lines.
Hatim El-Hibri is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at George Mason University. His research and teaching interests focus on global and transnational media studies, visual culture studies, Lebanon and the Middle East, urban studies, television studies, and media theory and history.
Will Youmans is Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. Broadly interested in questions of transnationalism, power and communication, his primary research interests include global news, law and politics. His other areas of interest include researching terrorism, American international broadcasting, Middle East politics and Arab-American studies.