Time: 12:15-13:30
Venue: CMI, Main meeting room, 3rd floor, Jekteviksbakken 31, (Juss II)

Ever since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in May 2005, the country has been the scene of constant political turmoil. For most Western media the conflict resides between pro-Syrians (the opposition) and anti-Syrians (the majority), whereas the followers of the “clash of civilizations” theory believe it to be a Shiite Muslims v/s Sunni Muslims conflict. The conflict between urban citizen and neo-urban citizen is not at all mentioned although it remains an essential dimension for the understanding of the current situation in the Middle East. The perverse effects of globalization on Beirut’s urban spaces have been completely neglected in favor of a narrative that stresses the geopolitical confrontation between USA, Iran, Syria and Israel. These effects crystallize the political opposition in the country. Indeed, while Lebanon remains the hostage of regional geopolitics, foreign powers can only manipulate the Lebanese factions because of the socio-economic conditions that have rendered the majority of the population completely dependent.

Dr Fabrice Balanche is Professor of Geography of Development at the University of Lyon (France) and Deputy Director of GREMMO (Research and Study Group for the Mediterranean and the Middle East).