Rethinking the Witness: Art After the Lebanese Wars

Saadawi, Ghalya. 2019. Rethinking the Witness: Art After the Lebanese Wars. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis offers a critical investigation of art after the declared end of the Lebanese civil wars and their prolongation through various discourses and politics. This violence, insidious and structural, was said to have foreclosed certain forms of representation and of speech. The subsequent hijacking of time and space would demanded a rethinking of the witness, of representation, and of the politics of form in art. This rethinking asks what particular tactics in art, attentive to form and apparatus as much as to content, can oppose the ideologies in war and post-war discourse, but can produce and become the conditions of possibility for a politics of art. The declared end of the Lebanese wars coincided with the end of the Cold War and its concomitant muffling of a long history of revolution and counter-revolution, naturally also in the Lebanese post-civil war context. The thesis addresses how certain nascent artistic propositions challenged the crises of historical representation, legacies of witnessing, as well as the heart of testimony as fiction. It argues that certain Lebanese artists in the post-civil war era were attentive to form and to world in such as a way as to extend from waves of political modernism. Through tactics such as parody, direct modes of address, alienation effect, use of text and vernacular modes, to name but a few, they foregrounded an awareness of the ideologies of their apparatus, and brought forth a rethinking of witnessing as a political and historical position from which to speak.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Witnessing, Testimony, Art, Documentary, Lebanon, Beirut, Post-civil War, Post-Taef, Political Modernism, Representation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 September 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Nov 2019 12:45

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


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