Autour de la maison jaune: collecting and curating memories in postwar Lebanon

When:4 Nov 2014, 4pm - 6pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Dr Claire Launchbury
La Maison Jaune

Cultural Studies Research Forum

Standing on the prominent corner at the intersection of the rue de Damas and the rue de l’Indépendance, Beit Beirut or La Maison Jaune, which is a building of considerable cultural and social importance in Beirut, is being simultaneously preserved as a war ruin and renovated as an urban cultural centre. A beautiful building designed to give double perspectives over the city, its location on the demarcation during the civil war transformed the building into a deadly snipers’ nest. In a co-organised project between the Mairie de Paris and Beirut municipal council the transformation of this building into a site of memory operates within complex postwar anamnestic cultures in contemporary Lebanon. Addressing this project and forms of cultural production which consider this building, this project addresses how this works to contest or express an objection to the forms of pervasive l’amnésie collective about the recent past in Lebanon and a nostalgia for a mythical pre-war past where the Beirut of the 1960s jetset was the Paris of the Middle East. The palimpsestic nature of the transformation of urban fabric embodied in the Maison jaune is investigated by considering the cityscape itself as a memory machine in which the archive, the trace and repressed traumas of both conflict and colonialism operate by challenging the exceptionality of fragmented war memory as merely a hiatus in an otherwise smooth historical course.

Claire Launchbury.jpg

Claire Launchbury is a lecturer in French and Cultural Studies at the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales, She completed a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in French at Leeds (2011-13), specialising in cultural studies approaches to literature, popular music, film and visual cultures from the Francophone Machrek with particular focus on Lebanon. Dr Launchbury initially studied music at Exeter University, then continued her studies at University College Cork before undertaking her doctorate at Royal Holloway, University of London, which was awarded in 2009. Her thesis investigated constructions of French cultural memory at the BBC during the Second World War through broadcasts of music, poetry and political programmes and was published in the ‘Modern French Identities Series’ at Peter Lang in 2012 (Music, Poetry, Propaganda: Constructing French Cultural Soundscapes at the BBC during the Second World War). She was resident in Paris for several years, worked as a lectrice at the IUT Ville d'Avray, and taught at the Université Paris-Sorbonne.




View Past Events