#IAS Virtual Event Series: Hatim El-Hibri, Visions of Beirut

August 24, 2022
Speaking at #IAS Virtual Event Series, Hatim El-Hibri, assistant professor of film and media studies at George Mason University and author of Visions of Beirut: The Urban Life of Media Infrastructure, discussed the role images play in shaping the urban spaces and cultural imaginaries of Beirut. Using maps, urban plans, and aerial photographs, he explained how images are better understood in terms of the infrastructures that they help create and the visual culture of the city it shapes in return.
The webinar with El-Hibri is part of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South’s #IAS Virtual Event Series.
About the book:
In Visions of Beirut, Hatim El-Hibri explores how the creation and circulation of images have 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 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 Beirut's 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.