Molly Theodora Billings Oringer
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Los Angeles, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9919
Approve DateOctober 25, 2019
Project TitleOringer, Molly Theodora (California, Los Angeles, U. of) "Spatial Relations: Post-War Rehabilitation and the Afterlives of Jewish Terrains in Lebanon"
This project explores the legacies of formerly Jewish spaces in Lebanon in the absence of a Jewish community. During the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90), Jewish synagogues, neighborhoods, schools, and cemeteries, which once served a population of over 14,000, faced the same threats of dereliction, destruction, and abandonment as the greater urban environment. In recent decades, however, Jewish spaces have been, to various extents, refurbished by elite developers, repaired by diasporic groups, and repurposed to house the displaced and poor. To better understand how diverse relations to the spaces of an absent minority group influences concepts of belonging among the Lebanese public, I consider the ways in which those rehabilitating, developing, guarding, occupying, or otherwise interfacing with Jewish sites remember and reflect on their histories and prior residents, as well as the mobilization of a Lebanese-Jewish past within an official narrative that aims to move beyond ethno-sectarian violence by appealing to an ostensibly indigenous cosmopolitanism. By examining changing notions of what constitutes both Jewishness and Jewish spaces within the broader context of the post-war state, I explore how varied interactions with formerly Jewish spaces provide opportunities for thinking about difference in the Lebanese body politic.