Pictures of a Revolution: Lebanon 2019-2020 

Listen Here:

(Recorded November 2019 & February 2020)

Guests: Sophie Chamas, Nizar Hassan, Joseph Salloum, and Ghiwa Sayegh

In this episode, the writer-activists Sophie Chamas, Nizar Hassan, Joseph Salloum, and Ghiwa Sayegh discuss the popular revolution that was taking place across Lebanon at the time and share their hopes and fears about what might happen next. The title was inspired by Susan Meiselas’ 1991 film Pictures of a Revolution.

Sophie Chamas is a scholar and activist originally from Lebanon. She is a Lecturer in Gender Studies at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS-University of London, having previously received her PhD from the University of Oxford. Her work sits at the intersection of feminist and queer political theory, Middle East Studies, political economy, and cultural studies, and focuses on the study of the life, death, and afterlife of the radical political imagination in the Middle East and its diaspora. All of my research is informed by what anthropologist Hirokazu Miyazaki calls “hope as method”–a dedication to exploring what is not yet rather than what has already become. Among her many articles and book chapters are “Lil Watan: Queer Patriotism in Chauvinistic Lebanon”; “Reading Marx in Beirut: Disorganised Study and the Politics of Queer Utopia”;  “Community Organizing and the Limits of Participatory Democracy in Lebanon”; and “Laughing Sectarianism Away: The Possibilities and Limitations of Lebanese Satire.” 

Nizar Hassan is a Lebanese activist, journalist, podcaster, and social researcher, focused on political economy and social movements, especially concerning Lebanon. He has built a broad following as co-creator and co-host of The Lebanese Politics Podcast and is also co-founder of the grassroots progressive movement LiHaqqi. He studied political science and media at the American University of Beirut and Paris Sciences Po, and holds a master’s degree in Labor, Social Movements and Development from SOAS-University of London. Hassan has worked as a researcher with nongovernmental entities in Lebanon, and his writings on economic policy, governance, and social change in Lebanon have appeared in The New ArabThe Daily StarL’orient Le Jour, and ROAR Magazine, among others. He has recently created an online video platform that produces and disseminates content on economic notions, systems, and policies, and his YouTube channel “Tafkeek” (Arabic for “breaking down” or “deconstructing”) will include a series of videos that break down major political-economic questions, focusing on the social conflict around the accumulation and redistribution of wealth and income.

Joseph Salloum is a journalist, writer, translator, and political activist from Lebanon. Among his areas of interest are mental health and social movements, queer politics, and labor organizing, and his work has been influenced by Michel Foucault and Susan Sontag. He is pursuing a master’s degree in media studies at the Lebanese University and has been involved in organizing NGO workers in Beirut. His article “‘Beirut Madinati’ and the Absenting of Politics from Political Action” was published in “Feminist Revolutionaries,” a special issue of Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research.

Ghiwa Sayegh is an anarcha-queer writer, independent publisher, and archivist from Lebanon. She is the founding editor of Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research, a multilingual, open access, and peer reviewed journal that aims to respond to the cultural and Orientalist hegemonies of research around gender and sexuality from within the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North Africa regions. She is also the co-founder of Intersectional Knowledge Publishers. She has an MA in gender studies from Université Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint-Denis, having previously studied at the American University of Beirut. Her research interests revolve around intersectional feminist and queer theories, Marxism, gender and sexuality in the MENA region, post-colonialism and Orientalism, and history from the peripheries. She is passionate about queer theory, transnational circulations, and imagined or unknown histories. Her influences are Audre Lorde and Sara Ahmed.


Clip from “Beirut Soundscape,” by Tania Kammoun and Elias Chikhani, used with permission of the creators and the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Intro music: South Pause, “Blaze Out” (via Epidemic Sound)

Airtone, “bsides” (2023) – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution (3.0)

Apoxode, “reflect ft airtone” (2023) – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0)

septahelix, “The Obsidian Monster Escape” (2023) – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0)

Kara Square, “Kalimba Song for the Whales” (2021) – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0)

Outro Music: Pearce Roswell, “Work Undone” (via Epidemic Sound)

Links for Further Information:

From Our Guests in This Episode

Sophie Chamas Academic Website

Sophie Chamas, “Lil Watan: Queer Patriotism in Chauvinistic Lebanon” (2023)

Sophie Chamas, “Reading Marx in Beirut: Disorganised Study and the Politics of Queer Utopia”  (2020)

Sophie Chamas, “The Sterility of Evil” (2019)

The Lebanese Politics Podcast (Produced by Nizar Hassan and Benjamin Redd)

Nizar Hassan’s articles for The New Arab

Nizar Hassan, “A Look at Lebanon’s Ongoing Historic Uprising” (2019)

Tafkeek YouTube Channel (produced by Nizar Hassan)

Joseph Salloum, “‘Beirut Madinati’ and the Absenting of Politics from Political Action” (2019)

Ghiwa Sayegh Academic Website

Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research (Ghiwa Sayegh, founding editor and editor-in-chief)

Ghiwa Sayegh, “Kohl Journal: From Positionality to Messiness, Archiving Feminist Struggles Online” (2019)

Ghiwa Sayegh, “Feminist and Queer Perspectives in West Asia: Complicity and Tensions” (2019)

Kohl Special Issue: “Feminist Revolutionaries” (2019)

More on the Lebanese Revolution

Ongoing Post on Protests in Beirut/Lebanon from Jadaliyya Co-Editors in Beirut (from October-November 2019)

Jeffrey G. Karam and Sana Tannoury-Karam, “The Lebanese Intifada: Observations and Reflections on Revolutionary Times” (Jadaliyya, November 2019)

Diala Lteif, “The Lebanon Revolution Takes on the Media: A Resource on Alternative News Outlets” (Jadaliyya July 2020)

Timeline of the Lebanese Revolution (through February 2020)

Mona Fawaz, Mona Harb, Howayda Al-Harithy, Ahmad Gharbieh, “The Beirut Blast: A Week On” (Beirut Urban Lab, October 2020)

“Compound Crises: Ziad Abu-Rish Reports on the Chemical Explosion in Beirut” (Status Podcast, August 2020)

Mona Fawaz and Soha Mneimneh, “Beirut’s Blasted Neighborhoods: Between Recovery Efforts and Real Estate Interests” (Beirut Urban Lab, November 2020)

Sami Atallah, “Lebanon’s Parliamentary Elections: How Did the Opposition Win?” (Jadaliyya, May 2022)

“Election Results and Unresolved Questions” (The Lebanese Politics Podcast, May 2022)

Jeffrey G. Karam and Rima Majed, eds. The Lebanon Uprising of 2019: Voices from the Revolution (2022)

Theme: Overlay by Kaira
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