As a response to my inability to start my adult life (in a conventional sense) in Lebanon, I decided to leave. The desire and the decision to leave, while voluntary and personal, are related directly or indirectly to social, political, and financial events, some of which predate me, and others predate the concept of Lebanon as a polity. As I left, an uprising erupted back in Lebanon, out the despair of an intensifying economic crisis, whose beginnings led me to leave.
“Leaving, Returning” is a reflection on my struggle to reconcile my decision to leave and the feeling of abandoning, first my family, second an imaginary nation I was taught to worship as a god, and third the fight to change reality without escaping. The film starts by questioning the construct of a nation state, and investigating the construction of the concept of Lebanon as nation in my head through memories. Through these temporal projections, the work ventures to contextualise this constructed image in history, and relates it to my decision to leave; which addresses my feeling abandoning the nation. As a replacement for the nation, the film contemplates social relations (of alliance) as a means for the expansion of possibilities through difference, without the need for imagined similarities like national identity; which addresses my feeling of abandoning my family. Finally, an uprising after years of stagnation and compliance made me question the limits of what is possible and with that my decision to leave. From here, the work reflects with a certain anxiety on my engagement with my reality, by questioning the value of abstract worlds (of thought and of social media) in a political context.
This research project deals with hierarchies of power at play in Lebanon in a so-called post-colonial moment. At the basis of this research lies an interest in understanding how established structures of power and social organization reinvent themselves through crisis and uprisings. More precisely this research aims to understand the function of crisis and revolution within the body of capitalism, which in turn allows a better understanding of the potentials and risks of the uprising of October 2019 in Lebanon. I will look into how the desire of the individual is modulated by being part of a social body, to then study the effect of the Lebanese social structure at the desire of individual bodies and the body politic, and how this desire is transformed by lack and crisis.
I will draw on Deleuze and Guattari, as well as Spinoza, first to centre affect, allowing me to uncover flows of power and capital on a wide temporal and spatial spectrum between multiple levels of social arrangements, second, to align my work to theories of productive desire. This research will also engage with the works of post-colonial theorists, such as Franz Fanon, and Edward Said in order to examine the role of colonial expansion in current social structures, and account for the historical accumulation that establishes the normativity of these oppressive and exploitative systems. Besides, I will make use of the work of Lebanese intellectuals and scholars, like Fawaz Traboulsi, and Salim Nasr, to contextualise and ground my research in historical and contemporary events.