Unreading Beirut In The Age Of Disaster Capitalism: Jorj Abou Mhaya’s "Madinah Mujawirah Lil Ard"

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Journal Of Graphic Novels And Comics


This essay examines how Jorg Abou Mhaya’s Madinah Mujawirah lil Ard [City Neighbouring the Earth] depicts a series of crucial ruptures in traditional collective identities, which are connected directly to emerging global realities. Mhaya’s Madinah reflects on the political, economic, and social (dis)order in contemporary Lebanon and critiques the unsettling transformations of its capital, Beirut. Carefully tailored to be both universal and phantasmagoric, Mhaya’s Beirut embodies the extent to which the hegemonic restructuring forces of neo-liberalisation have moulded the planet into an unfathomable and illegible referent. We argue here that the aesthetic strategies of Mhaya draw at once from hyper-realism and science fiction in order to evoke life as shaped by the aftermath of ‘disaster capitalism’: rational representations of lived realities seem elusive, and realist attempts to make sense of space, society, politics, and the present time appear destined to fail. In a country where changes are happening fast, reality tends to appear stranger than fiction, and comprehending it seems an impossible endeavour. The graphic novel thus mixes genres in order to make up for the aporia of discourse on life in the neo-liberal era.

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