Sahat al-Borj: A Feminine City Square as a Container of Events.

TitleSahat al-Borj: A Feminine City Square as a Container of Events.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDaou, Dolly
JournalJournal of Urban History
Pagination795 - 810
Date Published02/16/2016

Beirut’s city center, Sahat al-Borj, has been the receptacle to many historical events, which shaped its current identity, such as repeated wars and other violent events like tsunamis and earthquakes. These events affected the Square’s identity and the national identity and culture of Lebanon, and led to the creation and evolution of Sahat al-Borj from a cosmopolitan city center in the 1950s and 1960s, to a demarcation line between East (Christians) and West (Muslims) during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) to an abandoned city center since 1990. In Lebanese, both the city and the city Square are referred to with a feminine pronoun. In Arabic and Lebanese, the nouns Sahat (a square, is an open space; open to a diversity of activities) and Mdineh (city) are feminine, giving both feminine connotations. This gendered pronoun accruing to cultural practices humanizes the Square and personalizes its identity and its occupation. This article explores the human occupation of the Square throughout history and examines the urban site of Beirut as a container of events and a transitional “non-place” with feminine and interior qualities with a specific reference to Derrida’s khōra.

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