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The Memory of War (2012 - ongoing)

A handbook on engaging with multiple and diverse narratives of the Lebanese Civil War

Destroyed Building in Beirut
© forumZFD/Rene Fietzek

The educational system in Lebanon is divided along sectarian and/or political and social lines – schools and other institutions often place their emphasis in the teaching of history on events and narratives according to their political and religious affiliations. The Lebanese government has been in gridlock over approving revised (unified) history curricula, leaving the 1971 history curriculum still in effect. Contested events like the Civil War and the post-war period are thus rarely addressed in history education. This bears the danger of teaching unbalanced views of the past and present violence in Lebanon, of reinforcing narratives of victimization, of reproducing stereotypes and of justifying conflict lines and aggression against others.

In cooperation with its partners Lebanese Center for Civic Education (LCCE) and A Step Away, forumZFD has developed under its Dealing with the Past Programme a handbook on “Memories of War” to be used by teachers and NGO staff to facilitate discussion about past and present violence in Lebanon. Founded on the techniques of constructive management of memory, the handbook aims to enable youth (aged 14+) to engage with the painful past, to raise awareness of the adverse impact of using violence in conflicts, and to understand the role of memory in the process of reconciliation. The handbook uses personal stories and experiences of people who lived through the war as a safe starting point for launching the discussion about the collective memory of the war.

The material is presented in 12 thematic chapters, working amongst others with interactive activities and exercises, testimonies, newspaper articles, and pictures. Each chapter is designed to be easily integrated in lessons or extra-curricular activities at school or to be used as workshop guidelines in NGO work. The handbook is complemented by the documentary When We Grew Up Amid War consisting of four short films (Friendly fireCrossings/feeling aliveShrapnelThat's how we are going to continue?) portraying the memories of youth from diverse backgrounds who have lived through the war.

A full version of the handbook can be downloaded in Arabic and English. The Dealing with the Past team is currently working on a new edition of the handbook.

Furthermore, we provide a training series for civil society actors and secondary school teachers on how to use the handbook to facilitate conversations about contested historical events including multiple narratives of the Civil War. Next to working through the handbook, the series includes training elements on nonviolent communication, individual and collective identity, and acceptance of self and other. If you are interested to learn more, please contact us.

To find out more about this project, please find the forumZFD one pager for this project here!

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