• Provoking the Territory: Bernard Khoury
    Mohamad Khalil (MK) Harb
    Raafat Majzoub
    Dongola Limited Editions, 2023

“Evolving Scars”, 1991. Courtesy of Bernard Khoury/DW5

The Dongola Architecture Series (DAS) fills a blatant gap in the SWANA design discourse, publishing nuanced narratives on local architects and architectural thinkers to build a decolonized repertoire of knowledge that represents the complexity of the discipline’s impact on the cultural development of the region. Through one-on-one conversations with leading architects in the region, DAS goes beyond a discussion about buildings, and instead showcases stories of how these architects interrogate heritage, engage with labor and gender roles, develop economies, establish social systems and, perhaps most importantly, produce culturally specific knowledge. Through research in his Beirut archives and intimate conversations with Bernard, his team and stakeholders, Provoking the Territory: Bernard Khoury contextualizes the architect’s work in the region’s geopolitical transformations within his very specific and transdisciplinary worldmaking practice.

Bernard Khoury, as an architect and visionary, is renowned both regionally and internationally for his architectural interventions, which are firmly grounded in conversation with the wider politically charged context of Lebanon, and of the Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region. Khoury’s philosophy, which refuses to either deny or romanticize the historicity of the land he builds upon means that his buildings often stand as striations, revealing the tangled connections between conflicts, urbanization, and development. Khoury studied architecture and fine art at the Rhode Island school of Design and obtained an MArch from Harvard University. He was awarded by the municipality of Rome and nominated for several awards including the Aga Khan award, the Chernikov prize, and the Mies van der Rohe Award. Khoury was a visiting professor in several universities including the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and L’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris. He has lectured and exhibited his work in over 150 institutions, including solo shows at the Aedes gallery in Berlin, the Spazio per l'architettura Milano, and numerous group shows.

Sarah Chalabi, Dongola director and cofounder, has worked in the written world for the past twenty years between Beirut, Paris, Kuwait, and New York. As a trained journalist, she was often involved in the content and creation of texts for agencies, news, organizations, and nonprofit initiatives. In the years 2022 and 2023, Dongola launched three projects, Zarathustra by Reza Abedini at Galerie Tanit in Beirut, Ambit magazine at Station in Beirut with British Council Lebanon, and DAS 01 at Darat Al Funun in Amman.

Raafat Majzoub, editor in chief of the project, is an architect, artist, writer, director of The Khan: The Arab Association for Prototyping Cultural Practices, and former lecturer in the architecture and design department at the American University of Beirut. Majzoub’s work explores worldbuilding through experiments in new pedagogy focused on the abandonment of the notion of one truth and the development of inclusive, collaborative teaching and learning methods. He is the coeditor of Design to Live: Everyday Inventions from a Refugee Camp (MIT Press, 2021) and cofounder of Beirut-based The Outpost magazine, where he also published two literary supplements: The Perfumed Garden and L’Origine(s) du Monde. He has exhibited, published, and lectured on architecture and fiction in the Arab world internationally.

Mohamad Khalil (MK) Harb is a writer and researcher from Beirut. He received his graduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 2018 where he wrote an award-winning thesis on escapism and architecture in Beirut. His fiction and nonfiction work has been published in The White Review, The Bombay Review, BOMB Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, Hyperallergic, Art Review Asia, Asymptote, Scroope Journal, and Jadaliyya.

Reza Abedini, art director, studied graphic design at the School of Fine Arts in Tehran, and then earned a degree in painting from the Art University of Tehran. From 1989 onwards, he has been working as a designer, teacher, and researcher in the field of typography, graphic design, and visual arts. In 1993 he founded Reza Abedini Studio in Tehran, and orien+atiolab in Amsterdam in 2008. He created the publication and collective Dabireh in 2005, as a research center on Persian typography and its relationship with the traditional Iranian culture. Notably, he has been a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale since 2001. In 2006 he was the laureate of the Prince Claus Foundation award. He has participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, La Louvière in Belgium, and the Hong Kong Poster Triennial.

Zeina Chamseddine, project manager of the Dongola Architecture Series, explores the intersection of art, architecture and publishing and its sustainability. Chamseddine’s interest in publishing developed through her architecture studies (American University of Beirut, 2020). Chamseddine worked as a content manager on three publications during her student years; Inhabiting Invisible Plots (AUB, 2019), Professional Practice (AUB, 2020), and What are Borders (AUB, 2020). Most recently at Dongola, she led the collaboration with Ambit Magazine in the United Kingdom and British Council Lebanon for the magazine curation and launch in Lebanon.

Leah Khalil is a writer and editor whose passion lies somewhere between SWANA history and law. She is pursuing her JD at New York University (NYU) School of Law and has a bachelor’s degree in the post-colonial context of the Middle East from NYU. She was featured on the West 4th Street Review and writes and edits content ranging from legal documents to nonfiction manuscripts. Her work explores the intersectional dimensions of decolonization, as well as the creation of counter-narratives and imagined alternatives to the dominant systems that emerge from the Global South.

Dongola creates books offering unconventional perspectives on art, architecture, and contemporary topics in the MENASA region today. Started in 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon, Dongola is an experimental intellectual and cultural venture. Dongola aims to generate trajectories of thought that go beyond individual fields of knowledge. The organization creates the scenario for collaboration among writers, artists, designers allowing unlikely pathways of exploration the paths of resurgence and continuity. Dongola sustains a curatorial position devoted to the production of unique quality publications, books that stand as works of art and content in their own right. Each year, Dongola collaborates closely with selected creatives, building on certain themes. By prompting new modes of production and critique in the overlapping fields of culture, literature and history, our books offer critical reflection, interdisciplinary inspiration, and a commitment to examining contemporary social issues.