Visions of Beirut

The Urban Life of Media Infrastructure

Visions of Beirut

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 40 illustrations Published: June 2021

Author: Hatim El-Hibri

Geography, Media Studies > Media Technologies, Middle East Studies

In Visions of Beirut Hatim El-Hibri explores how the creation and circulation of images has shaped the urban spaces and cultural imaginaries of Beirut. Drawing on fieldwork and texts ranging from maps, urban plans, and aerial photographs to live television and drone-camera footage, El-Hibri traces the histories of how the technologies and media infrastructure that visualize the city are used to consolidate or destabilize regimes of power. Throughout the twentieth century, colonial, economic, and military mapping projects helped produce and govern its spaces. In the 1990s, the imagery of its post-civil war downtown reconstruction cast Beirut as a site of financial investment in ways that obscured its ongoing crises. During and following the 2006 Israel/Hizbullah war, Hizbullah's use of live television broadcasts of fighting and protests along with its construction of a war memorial museum at a former secret military bunker demonstrate the tension between visualizing space and the practices of concealment. Outlining how Beirut's urban space and public life intertwine with images and infrastructure, El-Hibri interrogates how media embody and exacerbate the region's political fault lines.


“Hatim El-Hibri weaves a narrative that articulates concealment and infrastructure onto a conceptual terrain that transcends the empirical context of Lebanon. This engaging, groundbreaking, and indispensable book makes a truly meaningful and influential intervention in global media studies, Middle East studies, and urban studies.” — Marwan M. Kraidy, author of The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World

Visions of Beirut is a compelling work of careful analysis and creative connections that proposes a historically informed set of powerful readings about the transformations of Beirut's public(s) and spaces. Hatim El-Hibri masterfully deconstructs outmoded assumptions about Lebanon's political economy and societies, unravelling instead the everyday visual infrastructures that sustain and reproduce forces such as sectarianism or financialization. The outcome is an important contribution that implores us to think critically about how image, its mediation, and infrastructures are remaking cities in today's world.” — Mona Fawaz, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the American University of Beirut


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hatim El-Hibri is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at George Mason University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Note on Translation and Transliteration  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. The Social Life of Maps of Beirut  21
2. Images of Before/After in the Economy of Postwar Construction  64
3. Concealment, Liveness, and Al Manar TV  105
4. The Open Secret of Concealment at the Mleeta Museum  144
Conclusion  178
Notes  183
References  217
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1077-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1044-9