Objects of transgenerational memory: challenging hegemonic historical narratives of war in Lebanon

by Lynn Hodeib

22 Jun 2021
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
22 (pp. 29-50)

Abstract: This article examines how objects embedded in the domestic life of the generation of the Lebanese civil war and the subsequent generations evoke stories that disrupt the state’s hegemonic production of history. The article explores stories surrounding two objects that survived the war, and took on residues of memory later heard and retold by the subsequent generation. These objects illuminate ways in which the legacy of intergenerational memory is produced and transmitted—and how these alternative spaces and stories emerge in present struggles, including the October 2019 revolution. In the first section, the article examines how material objects operate as intergenerational symbols of the experiences of war and as media for the process of narrativisation. In the second section, the argument explores the role of the material as a witness to what resists language and as a locus to memory’s temporality. In the third section, the article looks into the affective dimension of the material object as it provokes an opening to narration and challenges linear understandings of history. This search through material and domestic objects seeks stories that resist closure, and is essential to understanding today’s struggle against the Lebanese political class.

Keywords: Narrative, affect, memory, objects, temporality, transgenerational, Lebanon.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 3 (Memories from the Margins: Violence, Conflict and Counter-Narratives).

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