Revisiting Martyrs' Square...again: Absence and Presence in Cultural Memory

Transaction Publishers
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Moment to Monument: The Making and Unmaking of Cultural Significance, 2009, 1, pp. 169 - 181
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During the Lebanese civil war,' the area known as Martyrs' Square (Sahat al-Shuhadah) was transformed into a line of demarcation between Beirut's so-called "Eastern" and "Western" sectors. The Square, previously a thriving cultural hub, had been along-standing emblem of Beirut's cosmopolitanism, its literary license and its political freedom. In the years 1915 and 1916, this same square had witnessed the hangings of Beirut's original martyrs under the Ottomans, the martyrs whose later commemoration gave the square its name. Since the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and his burial in the nearby area, there have been several attempts to reclaim some of the numerous associations of the past: the square as a symbol of revolution, the square as the centre of the city,the square as a cosmopolitan sphere, the square as a symbol ofnational unity, the square as memorial for Lebanon's martyrs.
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