Power outages in post-war Lebanon
This is pilot study exploring the socio-material practices for maintaining electrical services in homes in Lebanon. Power outages are endemic in Lebanon and in the last decades, the unreliability of electricity supply has become an inherent part of Lebanese everyday life, normalizing strategies for maintaining desired levels of convenience and comfort that cut across the social (e.g. changing routines and practices) and the material (e.g. purchasing uninterrupted power supply systems for computers and appliances). This research project will explore the impact of power shortages on everyday life in the city of Beirut, Lebanon, by focusing on the socio-material elements that comprise households’ responses to them.
Networks of actors and artefacts of electricity supply and demand traverse different scales of urban life, where the ‘stuff’ of power cuts which range from local private generator enterprises (PGEs) providing electricity for a monthly subscription, to household items such as rechargeable batteries or candles. These mundane elements are contrasted with the contested political arena that is the provision of reliable power for the country.
The principal aims of the project are to understand the social and material networks that make up everyday power supply for homes in urban Lebanon, examining how these networks have developed and how they differ over time and space. In doing so, the project will generate empirical knowledge about this dimension of daily life in the city and the coping strategies adopted by households in Beirut, as they try to reconcile their ordinary expectations and aspirations with the reality of power shortages in Lebanon.
September 2014 to March 2015
Council for British Research in the Levant