© 2018

Precarious Imaginaries of Beirut

A City's Suspended Now


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Judith Naeff
    Pages 1-34
  3. Judith Naeff
    Pages 35-83
  4. Judith Naeff
    Pages 85-137
  5. Judith Naeff
    Pages 139-190
  6. Judith Naeff
    Pages 191-238
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 251-254

About this book


This book investigates a shared experience of time and space in the post-civil-war city of Beirut: “the suspended now”. Based on the close analysis of a large corpus of cultural objects; including visual art, literature, architecture and cinema; the book argues that last decades have witnessed a gradual shift in understanding this temporality from being a transitional phase to a more durable experience of precariousness. The theoretically rich analyses take us on a journey through Beirut’s real and imagined geographies, from garbage dumps to real estate advertisements, and from subterranean spaces to martyr’s posters. For scholars of cultural analysis, urban studies, cultural geography and critical theory, the case of post-1990 Beirut offers a fascinating case of neoliberal urban renewal, which challenges existing theories. For scholars of Lebanon and Beirut, this study complements existing work on post-civil-war Lebanese cultural production rooted in trauma studies by its focus on the city’s continual exposure to violence.


Beirut post-civil-war shared experience advertisement visual arts cinema literature postcolonial

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden Institute for Area StudiesLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

About the authors

Judith Naeff is Assistant Professor in Cultures of the Middle East at Leiden University, Netherlands. With a background in Arabic Studies and Literary Studies, she completed her PhD at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis in 2016.

Bibliographic information


“A remarkable exploration of urban precarity and creativity through the fraught relationship between the past and the present. Naeff draws the portrait of a city constantly struggling to come to terms with itself. Though it offers a fascinating vignette of Beirut, this book is about much more than one particular city. Scholars and students of urban culture, violence and memory, identity and temporality, and the Middle East, will find this book informative.” (Marwan M. Kraidy, Annenberg School for Communication, USA, and author of The Naked Blogger of Cairo)

"Judith Naeff has written a highly original and compelling study of the ‘suspended now’ of Beirut. While examining the roots of post-civil war trauma, she takes her project well beyond this to address the implications neoliberalism has had and is having on both the urban space and as it manifests in the precariousness subjecthood of the urban participant. Using deftly applied theoretical approaches, she analyses fascinating case studies ranging from debris and waste to mirrors and martyrs.” (Claire Launchbury, Independent Scholar, UK)