EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 11 Nov 2020 | 17:00–18:30

Red Flags in the Streets of Beirut: An Intellectual and Cultural History of the Lebanese Left, 1920-1948

Sana Tannoury-Karam (EUME Fellow 2020/21), Chair: Rim Naguib (EUME Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation 2020/21)

A few members of the Friends of the Soviet Union, Lebanon branch, during their trip to Moscow in 1947. Source: Family papers of Emily Fares Ibrahim in Beirut, Lebanon.

This talk presents a historical overview of a leftist milieu that was active in Lebanon, and more generally in the Levant, between the years 1920 and 1948. The talk is based on Sana Tannoury-Karam’s book project which combines social and biographic history with recent intellectual global history approaches to recover the ways Arab intellectuals engaged with the political sphere and negotiated their presence within new structures of power emerging in post-World War I Lebanon. It chronicles the political organization and activism of a group of intellectuals who advocated for social justice, the international solidarity of the working class, the need to fight capitalism, and the interconnectivity between the class struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle.

Those who sought to organize along leftist principles belonged to a unique post-war trend, with roots in the transformations of the late Ottoman period, of the non-elite—in this case a mix of workers, journalists, and self-appointed intellectuals—carving a place for themselves within the political sphere of interwar Lebanon. They also utilized the ‘tools’ made possible in a post-war atmosphere, like taking advantage of newly politicized public spaces to gather groups of people, organizing lectures and celebrations in theaters and cinema venues, as well as relying on the press and establishing new newspapers, to propagate their ideas. 

Sana Tannoury-Karam is currently a EUME Fellow 2020/21 at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. She was most recently an Early Career Fellow at the Arab Council for Social Sciences (2019-2010) and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in History at Rice University (2018-2019). Tannoury-Karam received her Ph.D. in World History from Northeastern University in 2017, with a special focus on modern Middle East history. Prior to her Ph.D., she completed MA degrees in history (Northeastern University) and in political studies (American University of Beirut). Her work has appeared in a range of publications including the Journal of World History, Jadaliyya, Megaphone, and TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research. Her most recent publication is a co-edited volume The League Against Imperialism: Lives and Afterlives that came out with Leiden University Press in September 2020. 

In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually via ZOOM. Please register in advance via eume(at) to receive the login details. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on SoundCloud.

A pre-circulated paper for this talk is available upon request via eume(at)

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