Lebanon
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Meet the Full Spectrum of Being Lebanese

 

On the photo shoot of "Mixed Feelings", photo by Marta Bogdanska
On the photo shoot of “Mixed Feelings”, photo by Marta Bogdanska

 

Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings
Mixed Feelings

Foreigner. Outsider. Other.

These are just a few of the ways that Lebanese of African and Asian heritage often find themselves labeled by their own society. This month, however, an exhibit aimed at unpacking and dispelling these mistaken identities will make a five-stop tour across Lebanon, fostering dialogue as it goes.

Mixed Feelings“, now in its second annual edition, presents 33 portraits of mixed-race Lebanese, plus quotes from them in English and Arabic, in cooperation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation. These subjects challenge stereotypes of who is and isn’t seen as Lebanese, and give voice to their common struggle with racialization, an experience that is all-too-common given that around one in six members of Lebanon’s workforce is from Asia or Africa.

Tackling racism in Lebanon matters not only because of the damage it causes to victims and their families, but also because of the negative impact it has on all communities in relation to cohesion and integration,” say the show’s co-creators Nisreen Kaj and Marta Bogdanska. Discrimination, they argue, is a slippery slope that “can and will escalate quickly, and can have tragic consequences, if not challenged,” while addressing it can, in contrast, “help foster strong and positive relations between different sections of the community and support community cohesion.”

Following its debut at Altcity last week, “Mixed Feelings” opened at the AUB on October 8 before heading north. In January it will also premiere a two-week installation, “Portraits of ‘Race’ in an Intimate Space” that will showcase Lebanon’s diversity through a collection of 120 objects from the personal archives of a dozen mixed-heritage families.

For more information: Mixed Feelings on Facebook

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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