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Phd Researcher Profile

Thesis Title: Re-imagining Spaces for Representation in the Divided City: The Cases of Urban Street Art in 'Post'-Conflict Beirut and Belfast

Thesis Abstract: The research study investigates the social and political dimension of contemporary street art production in the deeply divided cities of Beirut and Belfast. Specifically, it examines how historical experiences with the ethnonational and the neoliberal urbanisation of space constitute and maintain the perceptions and motivations of street art producers to engage with everyday life. While more is understood on the neoliberal urban and ethnonational impact of social realities on the social perceptions within the milieu of divided cities, much less is understood about the impact of new social realities on social perceptions of street art communities. The research design for the project compared the urban and social phenomenon of street art in the post-conflict cities of Beirut and Belfast, over a four-month, blended case study and focused ethnography. The researcher conducted twenty-two semi-structured interviews with eighteen street artists, three festival organisers and one city management official, and observed participants while volunteering at two street art festivals in Belfast. By shedding light on some of the spatial practices of nascent cultures of street art communities, the findings revealed the street art communities engage in small- ‘p’ political acts which determine how participants view their practices, and what kind of places they hope to achieve. They firstly re-purpose taken-for-granted spaces within the city to demonstrate how street artists adjust their practices to reveal pragmatic and rule based forms of placemaking to avoid jarring with sectarian identities, while bringing attention to the democratic, transient and transformative nature of their practices. By participating in the re-defining of social and urban spaces, the street art communities, secondly, makes use of space with the intention of awakening the slumber of urban dwellers with the visceral enjoyment and experiences of creating and producing street art for the inhabitants of the space. While small, their artistic interventions gift the inhabitants of Beirut and Belfast with ephemeral and gratuitous forms of interactions which present an opportunity, however temporary, for different social worlds to meet.

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Trinity College Dublin, Irish School of Ecumenics

Master, George Mason University

Bachelor, Lebanese American University

Bachelor, American University of Beirut

Keywords

  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • Human Geography
  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Urban Anthropology
  • JA Political science (General)
  • HC Economic History and Conditions