Talk by Nadia Bou Ali

The event of 1860: from Fratricide to Babel
in the framework of Volume
Friday November 8; 7pm


The 1860 wars of Mount Lebanon instituted sectarianism and civil war as the founding principles of nationalism in Lebanon. This talk will discuss the type of knowledge production or nationalist pedagogy that ensued from these events and the fantasy structure to which this knowledge production hails its subjects. It will specifically look at the emergence of language as an object of desire at the moment of crisis and social fragmentation.

Nadia Bou Ali is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow for the Arts and Humanities Mellon Initiative at the American University of Beirut. She has a Doctoral degree from the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Oriental Studies. Her research focuses on the relationship between modernity, nationalism, and language in her work on Arab intellectual history. She has written on the subjects of lexicography and nationalism, translation and ideology, the Arab Nahda, and sectarianism and political economy in nineteenth-century Mount Lebanon.

Volume is a collaborative project between Vision Forum, 98weeks and the Assabil Association and is curated by Sara Giannini together with 98weeks. Ten artists, both European and Lebanese, are invited to develop artworks, interventions and performances for Assabil's three municipal libraries in Beirut. The aim of the project is to investigate the potential of libraries as sites for artistic creation and production of knowledge as well as for the formation of a dialogic and critical dimension. Enriched by new activities and "site-specific volumes” the library will be transformed into a participative forum that counteracts the disappearance of a true public dimension in the city. The artists are commissioned to develop a contribution to a specific library according to its location, collection history, and current use. This aims to implement poetic aspects in the library that are textual, but also visual, conceptual or performance-based.