The MSFEA Urban Lab and the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut launched the book, “For the War Yet to Come” by Hiba Bou Akar, the assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University. The writer argues that spaces for urban planning have become “post-conflict” battlegrounds for political and religious groups seeking to gain control of what they see as potential future frontiers.
Beirut is a city divided. Following the Green Line of the civil war, dividing the Christian east and the Muslim west, today hundreds of such lines dissect the city. For the residents of Beirut, urban planning could hold promise: a new spatial order could bring a peaceful future. But with unclear state structures and outsourced public processes, urban planning has instead become a contest between religious-political organizations and profit-seeking developers. Neighborhoods reproduce poverty, displacement, and urban violence.
For the War Yet to Come examines urban planning in three neighborhoods of Beirut’s southeastern peripheries, revealing how these areas have been developed into frontiers of a continuing sectarian order. Hiba Bou Akar argues these neighborhoods are arranged, not in the expectation of a bright future, but according to the logic of “the war yet to come”: urban planning plays on fears and differences, rumors of war, and paramilitary strategies to organize everyday life. As she shows, war in times of peace is not fought with tanks, artillery, and rifles, but involves a more mundane territorial contest for land and apartment sales, zoning and planning regulations, and infrastructure projects.
Author: Hiba Bou Akar
Publication Date: 2018
Launch Date: 14 March 2019
Location: Issam Fares Institute, Auditorium (Level B), AUB