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Oral History and the Lebanese Civil War

A day of discussions and a public exhibition

The first phase of the project “From Local History to a Wider Understanding of the Past”, culminated in an eventful day of discussions and a public exhibition held at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Several discussions on the Lebanese Civil War took place amongst the students and teachers that participated in the project. Alongside an exhibition the put on display the work of the students collecting oral histories of the daily lives of ordinary citizens during the war.

Picture of the Exhibition
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The project “From Local History to a Wider Understanding of the Past”, in partnership with the Lebanese Association for History (LAH) focuses on expanding students understanding of the Lebanese Civil War. Under the framework of our Dealing with the Past (DwP) Programme Area and with the support of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), eight public schools in Mount Lebanon participated in this joint project to explore oral history as a tool to facilitate learning about the past, and to initiate inclusive intergenerational conversations about Lebanon’s history.

Student Discussions
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First Phase of the Project

Between September 2018 and February 2019, fifteen teachers completed a series of training workshops that introduced them to the theoretical background and practical skills of oral history. In addition to the importance of multi-perceptivity and non-violent communication when facilitating conversations about war and conflict, as well as encouraging historical thinking through the concepts of continuity and change. Having completed the trainings, the teachers then put into practice their newly acquired skills by introducing 173 students to oral history and by working with them on research, documentation, and communication skills. In early 2019, the students began work on their oral history projects about daily life during the war though different topics such as love and marriage, health, transportation and education. The students paired up and began interviewing narrators from their respective communities to then present their findings in their classrooms.

Student Exhibition
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The Day Itself

The big day was held on the 13th of April, the commemoration of the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War. Discussions took place between students of diverse backgrounds to share their impressions, experiences, and what they had learned from the project. Simultaneously, a public exhibition curated by Mirna Shabro was displayed at West Hall in the American University of Beirut’s (AUB) to offer audiences insights into the project and oral histories of the war. Visited by families, students, teachers, and other practitioners – the exhibition had successfully illustrated the importance of using oral history as a tool to learn about the Lebanese Civil War.  

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