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Weaving Historical Narratives: Beirut’S Last Mamluk Monument

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the recovery of a monument and the multiple narratives that were constructed by different authors almost simultaneously, within the short time span of four years. The building at the center of this investigation is the zawiya of Ibn ʿArraq, dating to the year 1517. It is investigated as an architectural sign employed in the construction of multiple historical narratives during the process of the postwar reconstruction of the Beirut Central District. ?Architectural sign? is not a static sign with a single fixed signifier, as in the Saussurian model, but one that is dynamic, as in the Derridan model. The zawiya plays a dual role in signifying both the medieval layer of Beirut and the style of the ?old? or ? traditional? character of the souks, though in reality its Mamluk architectural language differs from the late Ottoman language of the old souks.

Keywords: Architectural sign; Beirut Central District; Derridan model; historical narratives; Ibn ʿArraq; Mamluk monument; postwar reconstruction; Saussurian model; zawiya



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