Towards a shared prosperity: co-designing solutions in Lebanon’s spaces of displacement

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At the present moment, with approximately one million registered Syrian refugees (and many more who are unregistered), Lebanon has the highest number of per capita refugees in the world—approximately one quarter of its population (UNHCR 2018)

Published: Friday 9 August, 2019



Abstract: This article argues that a citizen science and participatory planning approach to infrastructure can lead to significant outcomes for improving quality of life, as well as building pathways to shared prosperity in diverse urban environments. Drawing on examples from Lebanon—a country that is heavily impacted by displacement from neighbouring Syria—the article argues that the practice of co-design creates opportunities for social inclusion and engagement that are often missing from top-down infrastructural development projects. This point is illustrated through the case studies of Ziad Kalthoum’s (2018) film Taste of Cement and a participatory spatial intervention organised by a British Academy-funded project in which the authors took part. Focussing specifically on the dimension of subjectivity, the article claims that participatory planning that engages both hosts and refugees can encourage collective aspirations and affirmation of difference rather than the social divisions and negative stereotyping that often result from infrastructural exclusions.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 7, supplementary issue 2 (Cities and Infrastructure in the Global South).

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