(De)Constructing Risk: The Weaponised and Commodified Home

Kazan, Helene. 2019. (De)Constructing Risk: The Weaponised and Commodified Home. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The history of ‘risk’ is bound up with the history of colonisation; colonial merchants conceptualised risk, and with this the principle of insurance, as a mechanism for trading commodities across turbulent seas. This transformation of risk into a separate, commodified object engendered an unequal distribution of its effects through a colonial understanding of value in relation to human life and resource commodities. This practice-led PhD project analyses risk in Lebanon through a study of the homes and lives affected by a limit condition of mechanised conflict and capitalist ideals for profit-making, first introduced into the Arab region through British and French colonialism. I investigate the unfolding of this condition in the present through an intersectional analysis of international law, architecture, and the human experience of violent affect.

Spanning from the Second World War into the present, I demonstrate this limit condition of risk through two architectural typologies in Lebanon, materialised through potential destruction and development as the weaponised and commodified home: the Waad project, the redevelopment of homes in Haret Hreik in Beirut by Hizb-Allah following their destruction during the 2006 war with Israel; and yet-to-be-built luxury development projects across Beirut, which exist as life-sized architectural visualisations on hoardings that wrap construction sites.

The thesis also examines the subjective experience of living with a protracted condition of risk in Lebanon. Having been excluded from the law, the often chaotic account of violence, here framed as ‘poetic testimony’, finds a place in art and cultural production. This is analysed through the practical aspects of the PhD project, for example in ‘Points of Contact’, an exhibition that I curated in Lebanon in 2018. Here I pose questions about the revolutionary potential of poetic testimony, as a method for breaking the asymmetric power relations entailed in a limit condition of risk.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Risk, Violence, Lebanon, Architecture, Domestic Space, Home, International Law, Bombardment, Art, Cultural Production, Testimony, Poetics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


30 June 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Sep 2019 10:50

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15



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