Interstice appropriation by youth of the margins
a resistance to marginalisation
Informal neighbourhoods in Beirut, built on ‘old interstices’ - old peripheral lands devalued because of their contentious status – today have their own interstices that represent spaces of appropriation but also a source of conflict. Through the case of Ouzai, I will analyse the interstitial practices of what remains of a formerly famous beach in this neighbourhood. In fact, Ouzai turned its back on this massively built beach, and the inhabitants stopped frequenting it although it is part of the urban morphology. This has led to its appropriation by groups of ‘street boys’, leading to advanced initiatives.
Through a qualitative empirical survey carried out between 2019 and 2020, I aim to show how an interstitial space constitutes a resource within the margins of the city, and a vector of cultural practices for young people. They exploit the freedom of appropriation to transform the interstice and build an alternative to the lack of a private space. It is then a question of showing how this space quickly becomes a source of conflict with the other actors in the territory, namely the inhabitants and the local authorities. The study then shows how youth practices can be a form of silent resistance to marginalisation and domination, which are a set of oppressive norms derived from moral values or rules imposed by local authorities, and the negative image associated with their neighbourhood. In this sense, these practices make young people a new political actor by claiming their right to urban spaces.