Terreform co-director and AKPIA MIT post-doctoral fellow, Deen Sharp lecture “Lebanon and the Fog of Reconstruction: Between the Future and Survival” published by MIT Architecture (video).
Reconstruction of the built environment is often tied to the end of war and the start of a post-conflict period but this link maybe misplaced. Reconstruction can also result in violence, displacement and social discord that is more commonly associated with the built environment’s destruction. To comprehend how reconstruction can be violent and tied to conflict, it is integral to recognize that war is not only about the destruction of the built environment. Construction and the control of mobility, in particular within urban areas, can be utilized to impose violence on others. To disrupt the link between reconstruction and post-war periods, I provide an account of Lebanon's so-called post-war reconstruction that highlights the sediments of the Civil War within it and how this process sustained certain forms of conflict. The vast reconstruction led by, and formed around, the urban development corporation Solidere in downtown Beirut I contend was not aimed at rebuilding a social contract or establishing a post-conflict era rather it was part of an accumulation of social power by one faction over others. The lesson of the Lebanese reconstruction is that rebuilding can be play a central part in maintaining conflict rather than creating a new social contract to work toward efforts to sustain peace. The link between reconstruction and post-conflict eras should not be automatically assumed but rather understood as something that needs to be forged.