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Sites of Commemoration (2016 - 2017)

Encouraging secondary school students to gain a better understanding of the past by using sites of commemoration

After the end of the Lebanese Civil War, the country was in a state of amnesia about what took place during the war. It was thought that by suppressing memory, the Lebanese can move forward and unify the nation. However, the past 25 years have shown that tensions and divisions continue to shape the Lebanese society.

The Martyrs Square in Downtown Beirut
© Rene Fitzek

To generate a better understanding of the Civil War and an acknowledgement of the different existing narratives, forumZFD together with its partner organisation the Lebanese Association for History (LAH) empowered secondary school teachers to use commemoration sites to engage in a conversation with their students about the Civil War. A commemoration site is any public site that is linked to the history of the Civil War like a statute or a building left damaged by the War. “Sites of Commemoration” is part of a more comprehensive approach within the Programme Dealing with the Past that involves the mapping of commemoration sites concerning Lebanon’s Civil War.

Twenty-five teachers from public and private schools received trainings on research and communication skills as well as on critical thinking. Through projects designed by or with their students, they researched commemoration sites on different narratives of the Civil War and thereby engaged in a critical reflection and examination process. Among the chosen commemorations sites was, for example, the "Hope for Peace" monument in Yarze. The students documented their research, either in a written form or in a film about the sites. An exhibition was held at the Barbir Hospital in Beirut, where the students' projects were shown to the public. The hospital is itself a commemoration site, located on the Green Line separating the Muslim West from the Christian East of the city during the Civil War. The exhibition included interviews with people living in the area, descriptions of the sites as well as background information on the project. The exhibition is to be presented in the municipalities of the commemoration sites as well.

"With this project, we want to support teachers in teaching students how to think critically by exploring commemoration sites of the Civil War.", explains Nina Strumpf, former project manager at forumZFD. "Students and teachers can develop a better understanding of Lebanon's past and different narratives about it.”

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

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