BEIRUT: The publisher of a new journal said Thursday the environment was ripe for more locally produced research in Lebanon. “We are really trying to create a community of researchers that want to reflect on, and [are] from, the region,” Marie-Noelle AbiYaghi said at the launch event for the third issue of the “Civil Society Review.”
AbiYaghi, director of Beirut-based research center Lebanon Support, said the response to the first two issues of the journal, which was started in 2014, was so positive that her organization had decided to institutionalize: The journal now has a review board and editorial board. “We are trying to persuade more young scholars to publish more,” AbiYaghi added.
She cautioned that, while the work had a ready audience, it was unlikely to effect a major change in government policy, saying, “Policy change in Lebanon is not really bound to mobilization or action from below.”
Lea Yammine, director of publications for Lebanon Support, told The Daily Star that the journal was “more about providing the tools and necessary resources for concerted action. It’s also about creating a space for synergies and exchanges between civil society, researchers, academics and activists.”
AbiYaghi’s call for more locally produced research was echoed by Seteney Shami, director of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences.
“There needs to be investment in a young generation of social sciences researchers who can operate in an emergency context, such as the Arab world, where ... the safety of researchers is challenging.”
The review focuses on the civil society sector, largely in Lebanon, which is often considered in good health compared to some of its regional neighbors. But Yammine warned that the country’s environment for civil society was unstable.
Citing a paper she and AbiYaghi recently published, she told The Daily Star the space for such organizations to operate was “shrinking.”
Civil society is too dependent on funding, she said, adding that “there’s also a reliance on short-term projects rather than trying to respond to the needs on the ground.”