VII Interactive: Imagine: Reflections on Peace — The Fire Under the Ashes — Lebanon revisited

December 8, 2020
10:00–11:15AM EST
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Photo by Nichole Sobecki/VII. Traffic zips past Beit Beirut, a recently opened exhibit space and memorial to the civil war. The former apartment building was taken over by a right-wing Christian militia during the war, and sits at the Sodeco crossing, an area once considered too dangerous to risk passage even during ceasefires.

After 15 years of civil war, Lebanon finally signed a peace accord in 1989 but the expected benefits of peacetime for the majority of the civilian population have failed to materialize.

“The warlords who commanded the conflict became the politicos running government, with many of the original flashpoints still defining their agendas. The conflict simply moved from the street to the state’s institutions. They treated Lebanon’s institutions as war booty,” reflected Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

As part of the VII Foundation’s extensive reporting project exploring post-conflict societies, Imagine: Reflections on Peace, veteran reporter Robin Wright and VII photographer Nichole Sobecki return to Lebanon thirty years after the end of the war. Instead of the economic, cultural and social gains expected of peacetime they find a ‘failing state’, riven with corruption, economic dysfunction, political deadlock and teetering on the brink of collapse. Wright, who reported from Beirut in the 1980’s, catches up with a former hijacker, now a grandfather fighting cancer, and the warlords who ran the country. She and Sobecki also meet a new generation struggling to create a post-war society.

In conversation with Constance Hale, editor of Imagine: Reflections on Peace, Wright and Sobecki discuss their insights into their reporting for the project and why it will only take sparks to ignite the ‘fire under the ashes’.

Robin Wright is a joint fellow to the US Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as well as a regular contributor to New Yorker magazine.

Photographer Nichole Sobecki of VII Photo Agency lived in Beirut early in her career and is now based in Kenya. Her work focuses on issues to do with identity, conflict and human rights.

Constance Hale has edited more than 3 dozen books and is the author of Syn and Syntax, a primer on literary style.

All participants attending this lecture will receive a discount code for a copy of Imagine: Reflections on Peace.

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