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
Start Page795
Pagination795 - 810
Date Published09/2017

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 such as 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. Like Derrida’s khōra, the sites of Beirut and Sahat al-Borj both have interior qualities and are receptacles of repeated wars and violent events. In Lebanese, both the city and the city Square are referred to with a feminine pronoun: hiyeh or “she” in Lebanese and elle in French. 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 by referring to the city and its center as “she” or “her.” In Anglophone societies, city squares are usually referred to as “it” in English and do not have feminine or masculine genders or “character” attributed to them, unlike French, Arabic, or Lebanese. Through a series of historical cartographic maps and images collected from different library archives in France and Lebanon, this article will explore the human occupation of the Square throughout history and will examine 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. Although there are many interpretations of Khōra, like Derrida’s Khōra, in this article, the interior is explored as a receptacle associated with the feminine, the container, which receives human’s occupation. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Short TitleJournal of Urban History
Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Time Period: