The Beirut Security Studies Collective
The Beirut School of critical security studies evolved as a transnational process with several networks connected through the Eastern Mediterranean city of Beirut. The project is brought together and supported by the Beirut-based Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS), a regional, independent, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production in the Arab world. While the project seeks to expand and connect to centers of knowledge production across the region and beyond, its foundation draws primarily on the work of Arab and non-Arab scholars based in Beirut, affiliated with institutions such as the American University of Beirut, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), as well as Arab and non-Arab scholars who have worked on questions of security in Lebanon.
What these scholars had in common were encounters with the lived experiences of insecurity and precarity in Lebanon, the complex dynamics of contentious politics within a pluralistic political environment, and an interest in engaging in scholarly knowledge production across and between North American, European, and Arab spheres and institutions. From this core, the project has expanded to include scholars from or working across the region with similar concerns about developing a critical approach to security studies. What this network avoids, and in many ways seeks to counter, is the proliferation of ‘security studies’ and ‘strategic studies’ training programs and think tanks developing across the region, funded and supported by regional and foreign governments seeking to develop national geopolitical traditions to advance state security interests.