MIXED FEELINGS I. RACISM AND 'OTHERING' IN LEBANON FROM A LEBANESE PERSPECTIVE.
'I WAS TOLD TO LEAVE SCHOOL AND HELP MY MOTHER CLEAN TOILETS.'
Mixed Feelings project is a social and visual project. It aims at unpacking and examining the issues of 'race', racialization and racism in Lebanon, and creating more in-depth dialogue and debate around this subject. Due to the demographics of the aforementioned social groups that face racial discrimination in Lebanon, classism is usually tied to negative stereotyping and has become the excuse for 'race' based discrimination in the country. Therefore, at the core of the discourse on racism in Lebanon is a 'us' versus 'the outsiders' narrative; the existence of two seemingly homogeneous and separate units that leave little or no room to explore any other position or experience with racism in the country.
To alter this discourse, Mixed Feelings attempts to clear a space for multiple and previously unheard voices on the subject. It does so by highlighting the presence of mixed Lebanese (specifically Lebanese of African or Asian heritage in Lebanon), asking them to speak out on their experiences with racism and 'othering' here.
Lebanese of African or Asian heritage are, in varying degrees and through unique as well as shared experiences, the victims of 'race' thinking, racialization and racism. As a social group, these individuals are often identified by what they are not (and so are on some level occupiers of both the 'us' and 'them'), and experience racism as much as 'outsiders'. Therefore, they bring a unique position to the discourse; their existence blurs racial lines and challenges the fixedness of (a white Lebanese) identity; it challenges the social construct of 'race' and its ties to national belonging; it allows for the dialogue around racism in Lebanon to focus on racism and not become appropriated into a discussion centered solely on classism.
MIXED FEELINGS project is a collaboration between Marta Bogdanska and Nisreen Kaj.
Project done in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation - Middle East Office.