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  • A Line in the Sand: Colonial Traces on Beirut's Mediterranean Coastline

    Samuli Lähteenaho

    Chapter from the book: Rommel C. & Viscomi J. 2022. Locating the Mediterranean: Connections and Separations across Space and Time.


    A line drawn in the sand became significant in the late 2010s at a public beach on the Mediterranean coastline of Lebanon. This line, originally drawn by the French mandatory authority governing Lebanon at the time as part of a land registry reform in the late 1920s, gathered new-found significance in current day Lebanon. The chapter starts by outlining the historical shift from the Ottoman-era land registry and property regime in Beirut to the new regime instituted by the French colonial authorities. Then, the chapter discusses how contemporary urban politics such as public space campaigning has engaged the traces of the mandate-era reform, in relation to a widely shared propertied understanding of space on the Lebanese littoral. It further examines how the line in the sand became poetically dense, a locus for claiming space as public or private. Through these discussions, the chapter asks how the public beach (and the coastline at large) became located at the intersection of different spatial logics, including that of the land registry reform. The connections and disconnections implied in these logics were derived in part through the significance of the Mediterranean for the Lebanese coastline, but also composed it in the contemporary moment as a constitutive part of regional constellations.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Lähteenaho, S. 2022. A Line in the Sand: Colonial Traces on Beirut's Mediterranean Coastline. In: Rommel C. & Viscomi J (eds.), Locating the Mediterranean. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/HUP-18-7

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on July 6, 2022


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