Syrian displacement and care in contemporary Beirut
Ella Parry- Davies
This chapter discusses an artistic project devised amidst conditions of transnational displacement in the Middle East, and through it reflects on the role played by care and cooperation in the politics of art making. Dima el Mabsout’s Fleeing and Forgetting (2015) addressed the transformation of urban spaces in Lebanon by new populations of Syrian refugees, and resulted in a collection of almost two hundred photographs taken of and by refugee children in Beirut. The chapter explores the photographs in order to think through the performances of care that subtended this project, and the broader questions that these pose about art and scholarship on migration. While a visual analysis of the images may celebrate their qualities as art objects, the perceptual coordinates offered by performance emphasise the social and aesthetic care that the images perform and depend upon. The chapter thus problematises a historical tendency in some performance theory to associate migration with positively valenced notions of transgression and liminality and conversely stillness with stasis and unfreedom. The chapter proposes instead to perform scholarship ‘care-fully’, in recognising struggles for continuity and interdependence within specific experiences of transnational displacement.
throughout nearly all of Asia and the MiddleEast, but are now
found only in small pockets of territory, most notably in India, China
and Russia, less than 10 per cent of their historical range. The wolf and
grizzly bear used to range across almost all regions in Europe, Northern
Asia and North America; almost no bears remain in Europe and the wolf
has been eradicated in nearly all of its former territory in Europe and
much of North America.
How do we understand the condition of animals now that low populations and drastically diminished habitat ranges are the new norms
the seventeenth-century reader.47 In 1627 Bacon’s
chaplain William Rawley oversaw the publication of Sylva
Sylvarum: or, A Natural History in Ten Centuries. This is what
might be called a miscellany of scientific curiosities, experiments
14/10/02, 9:19 am
and information. Much of the material was gathered by Bacon
from ancient sources, such as Aristotle, but Bacon also made
considerable use of Sandys’ Travels (1615) for material about
Greece, the MiddleEast and Italy. Sylva Sylvarum is broken up
into one thousand brief
Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves as a reparative fantasy
and London: Routledge.
Puar, J. (2013). ‘Rethinking homonationalism’, International Journal of MiddleEast
Studies, 45:2, pp. 336–9.
Rimsby, P. (2013). ‘Alla måste föra kampen för hbtq-personers rättigheter’, Dagens
Nyheter (3 August), www.dn.se/debatt/alla-maste-fora-kampen-for-hbtq-
personers-rattigheter/(accessed 5 June 2018).
Román, D. (2006). ‘Remembering AIDS: A reconsideration of the film The Longtime
Companion’, GLQ, 12:2, pp. 281–301.
Román, D. (2009). Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS.
Bloomington: Indiana University
New generation Northern Irish poets (Sinéad Morrissey and Nick Laird)
secretary to the British military high command in Iraq’.42 Firstworld intervention in the MiddleEast is characterised as a casual affair.
After ‘a pleasant afternoon’ riding in the desert, Bell is seen trailing
‘a walking stick behind her’, marking out the frontiers for the ‘new
countries’ the victorious western powers brought into being. Yet their
attempts at inscribing their presence in the region face repeated resistance, which Laird renders primarily in nature imagery. By moving ‘under
the borders’, the rivers subvert them. Pitted against the ‘kingdom of
Riddles of the
Exeter Book and the Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition (Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 2009), p. 45. Cf. Roberta Frank, ‘The Unbearable
Lightness of Being a Philologist’, JEGP, 96 (1997), 486–513.
69 See Stanley Cramp et al. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the
MiddleEast and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palearctic, 9
vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977–94), 1:372, 377.
70 Bitterli, Say What I Am Called, p. 143.
71 For further discussion, see Salvador-Bello, Isidorean Perceptions of
Order, pp. 192–3.
72 Williamson, Old
this time for the duration of the
Consequently, Sassoon rejoined the Royal Welch Fusiliers at Litherland in
December 1917 and spent March and April in the MiddleEast with the 25th
Battalion. Army life was now a mixture of ‘crude circumstance’ and an inner
‘flame-like’ spiritual experience. He had now, he thought, acquired a degree of
self-realisation and found himself free to study other people and events shaped
by the war with an intense scrutiny; ‘equipped to interpret this strangest of all
my adventures – ready to create brilliant pictures of sunlight and
make a man irascible and aggressive. 28 gentle] (a) noble,
high-minded (b) tender, soft in nature.
39 shepherds of Assyria] Abraham, Lot, Jacob and other
biblical patriarchs, whom Mantuan calls Assyrios. Assyria was used loosely for much of the MiddleEast.
45-6 Paris, prince of Troy, was brought up by a shepherd on Mount Ida. Later, as himself a
shepherd there, he judged a contest of beauty between Hera (Juno), Athene (Minerva) and Aphrodite
47-8 some one] Abraham, prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22.1-14); but hard
to relate him to Paris. 49