Discussion Panel: “Identity Transformations during war”

One can argue that the idea of an Identity/Identities was born with the formation of human societies and our understanding of our Identity continues to change and transform part and parcel with our human evolution. We can see both our individual and collective Identity/Identities reflected in our daily human behavior as creative innovation working with and against the knowledge imposed on us by society and its various institutions.

With this in mind, we reflect on the Arab region today, and the question of it’s Identity/Identities. We are going through a very important time in our history where various masks are being ripped off of previously established norms that formed our Identity/Identities. We have recently witnessed several civil wars, all of which have tried to at least shake off the previous corruption and tyranny and offer a new way to live and therefor to identify; a way that is more in line with our basic human rights. We ask ourselves, if the results of these awful wars will at least bring forth such positive change?

Which bring us to our panel discussion; we will target various above mentioned themes, in order to highlight the question of Identity/Identities and its components. It is worth mentioning that two academics and two researchers in Human Rights Issues and Civil Activity will be participating in the panel discussion including Dr. Hassan Abass from Syria and Dr. Saoud Al Mawla from Lebanon.

1. Dr. Hassan Abbas - Founder and president of The Syrian League of Citizenship- Syria

  • BIO: Born 1955 Syria, Doctorate Degree in literature and literary critique from the Sorbonne University. From 1992 to early 2017, he was a professor and researcher at the French Institute for the Near East in Damascus and then in Beirut. Also, he was responsible for cultural activities at the Institute from 1992 to 2006.Parallel to that he also taught at The Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts Damascus; his works include “The Guide to Citizenship” with the artist Ahmad Ma’alla, “The Cultural Map for Wadi Al-Nasarah”, “Syria, A View from the Sky”, “Voyage with the Haiku”, “Do not Close Your Eyes”. From his translation works “The Vision Machine” and “The New Thinkers of Islam”. Member and co-founder of various associations in the field of citizenship, socio-cultural development and human rights in the region.

2. Saoud El Mawla – Lebanese Prefessopr and researcher in Social, Religious, and Polictical affairs - Lebanon.

  • BIO: Born in 1953 Beirut. In 1984 he was awarded a doctorate in Islamic studies at the Sorbonne (Paris). From 1985 till 2013 he has been Professor of the Political and Religious Sociology of Arab Countries at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of the Lebanon then researcher at Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. He is vice-President of the Imam Shamseddin Foundation for Dialogue and President of the Arab Centre for Dialogue, Justice and Democracy. He is the author of a large number of works on inter-religious dialogue and on Shi’ism

Photo Exhibition “new identities and the city”

By Sawsan Saad

About the exhibition:
Beirut’s architectural landscape is fading day after day. The beautiful, old, heritage buildings are being destroyed and in their place, skyscrapers are being erected. Free, open public spaces are slowly colonized by stores, hotels and private property. The urban population is being transformed into a “consumer” project in the city – the inflated village of Beirut. This massive take over comes at the expense of our cultural and historical connection to our city. The search for Beirut’s new Identities necessitates the dismantling of Beirut’s architectural landscape in order to understand it’s transformations and contradictions. This landscape is witness to the birth of new Identities in the city which are amplified by its streetlife, its neighborhoods and communities, and also by political events, and socio-cultural fluctuations that somehow produce this civic space; this paradoxical, accelerated, fragmented space that is consequently dismantling the city’s social strata and gentrifying by virtue of capitalism and extremist ideologies.

About Sawsan:
Sawsan Saad is an architect and researcher in urban planning and cities’ archiving based in Beirut. She’s passionate about architectural photography, observing cities dynamics & metamorphosis, urban mapping and writing urbanism.

Outreach Program: Mobile Media

In September 2017, this outreach program will target both residents and refugees across Lebanon, and will include a workshop on how to use Mobile Media to make short movies that will show their unrevealed and hidden daily life in order to present a comprehensive picture about their real identity.

University Talk: New Identities

In October 2017, a screening event shall take place in different universities, followed by a Q&A session and a guided debate regarding the topic of refugees and minorities in Lebanon. The debate will be run by a professional in the field that gears the overall conversation towards a positive safe discussion platform; on each side of the debate will be students representing the refugees and minorities in the university and the local Lebanese students, both discussing and questioning the current crises and situation.   


It is of great importance that the seminars and outreach program are properly documented in the form of a documentary film. A team of videographers will be archiving all the activities taking place. The final film will therefore contain the workshops, results, on-the-ground reactions, activities, seminars and debates; this artistic documentation will be used as a tool for future campaigns, awareness seminars and screenings. Moreover, the film will tackle and highlight the subject of new identities, which is by itself a topic worthy of documentation and discussion.