Space of Hope for Lebanon’s Missing

Promoting Transitional Justice through a Digital Memorial

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam e.i.van.ommering@vu.nl
  • 2 Independent scholar reem.soussi@gmail.com
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ABSTRACT

This article explores how a digital memorial for forcibly disappeared persons contributes to transitional justice in Lebanon. It presents the joint establishment of an interactive digital memorial by a collective of nongovernmental organizations, relatives of missing persons, and youth volunteers. The case study is situated in debates on transitional justice, calls for democratization of collective memories and archives, and discussions on new information and communication technologies. The article demonstrates how the development and launch of Fushat Amal (Space for Hope) is shaped and confined by postwar sociopolitical realities that are all but favorable to memorialization or justice-seeking initiatives. It highlights how digitalized memories can open up spaces that remain closed in the offline world, enabling survivors to share their stories, build collectives, demand recognition, and advocate for justice. At the same time, the authors discuss the limitations of digital memorials in relation to questions of access, ownership, and sustainability.

Contributor Notes

ERIK VAN OMMERING is a PhD student in the department of social and cultural anthropology of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His research explores the linkages between formal elementary education and processes of conflict transformation, and is grounded in ethnographic field research in school communities in Lebanon. Aside from his academic interest he works in the humanitarian response to the Syria refugee crisis in the Middle East.

REEM EL SOUSSI is an independent human rights and public health professional based in Lebanon. Until recently, she worked as project manager with ACT for the Disappeared, a Lebanese human rights NGO. In that capacity she was in charge of the participatory development of Fushat Amal, an interactive digital memorial for the persons who went missing during Lebanon’s civil wars. Reem currently works as monitoring and evaluation consultant.

Conflict and Society

Advances in Research

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