Dealing with the Past in Lebanon
The Ta’if Agreement (1989) provided the basis for the end of the Civil War, and the period following is often described as a state-sponsored amnesia hoping to return to political normalcy. However, old conflicts continued to smoulder, and new ones erupted. Lebanon’s recent history remains heavily contested and is not featured in the history curriculum taught in schools. Processes of Dealing with the Past which incorporate the diverse perspectives of Lebanese communities remain few.
Working with local partners, we aim to further empower our partners to engage actively with multiple narratives of contested historical events and increase mutual acceptance within communities in Lebanon. To work towards this goal, we develop and provide training in methods and tools that facilitate learning about - and from - the past and increase mutual understanding within communities. Furthermore, we are working with different partners to identify and build on synergies within the field of Dealing with the Past. Despite the state-sponsored amnesia, civil society, the arts and academia have been actively engaging with the past yet are often not aware of each other’s efforts. To provide an overview of activities, and to strengthen stakeholders’ networks in the respective field, we developed an online database on initiatives addressing war and conflict since 1990. The database is accessible to the public on the website of our partner Lebanon Support, the Civil Society Knowledge Centre (CSKC).
To offer a conflict sensitive method and tool for engaging with the memory of war, with our partners we have developed the handbook The Memory of War. This handbook is now used to train teachers from public and private schools as well as NGO staff to address past and present violence and its memorialisation with youths. The training is delivered with several partners, such as Fighters for Peace. The training series also engages with the participants’ own relationship with the civil war and equips them with skills to communicate non-violently.
To further support teachers to engage their students in various narratives of the Civil War, we and the Lebanese Association for History also work with teachers on creative and interactive learning methods, such as learning about Civil War history through exploring sites of commemoration.
Please find a summary of the Dealing with the Past programme here.