I wish I could write my project as fiction – 5in10 with Khaled Saghieh
Khaled Saghieh began his career as a journalist in 1998 at the Lebanese daily al-Safir. Until 2011, he was the deputy editor-in-chief of the daily al-Akhbar. Between 2012 and 2015, Saghieh worked as editor-in-chief of the news department at the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI). He also earned an MA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In his book project entitled “Of the Left and Other Demons”, Saghieh retraces his trajectory as a journalist navigating both a turbulent region and a mutating political tradition. He does so by probing the notion of ideological self-fashioning against the backdrop of his own intellectual and professional transformations as a militant journalist in postwar Lebanon. Khaled Saghieh is currently a research fellow of Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe (EUME).
What was intriguing to you when you were a child? What is it that you always wanted to know about the world?
I was born to a Lebanese father and a Syrian mother. As a child, I used to visit my mother’s relatives in the city of Homs. Her two old aunts used to live in a traditional Syrian house in the old city, and my own aunt used to live in a flat in one of the new neighborhoods of the city. I was very confused by how the two houses belong to the same city. I wanted to know which one is Homs and which one is not. It was an innocent question that turned out to be at the core of the Syrian uprising later on.
How would you explain your current research to a stranger in an elevator (elevator pitch)?
In my journalistic career, I have always used concepts and tools of analysis advocating a Leftist agenda. With the Syrian uprising and the hostile position taken by most of the Arab Left towards it, I began asking questions about the components of this Leftist agenda and how it meant different things at different times. I would like to tell the story of these mutating concepts and meanings through my own trajectory as a journalist who witnessed two decades of neoliberal policies, wars, and popular uprisings.
Which stations of your academic journey were extremely formative to you?
The years I spent as a graduate student at the economics department in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst were crucial to my intellectual formation. It is one of the rare departments in the US that teaches mainly heterodox economics rather than mainstream neoclassical economics. Moreover, professors and graduate students at this department are not just researchers or teachers, but critical minds who dedicated their lives to explore various itineraries to reach economic fairness and a world governed by justice.
How is it to do research in Germany?
Berlin’s laid back rhythm and rich libraries are convenient to any researcher. For me, however, it is an inspiring city due to its own history and its current refugee policies. While wandering in Berlin’s streets, visiting memorial sites and flea markets, and bumping into Syrian exiles in coffeeshops, I feel as if I am a movie character hanging between “Goodbye Lenin” and “The Return to Homs”. It is this liminal position that makes Berlin the perfect place for my work.
If you had one wish, what would you wish for the further development of your subject?
I wish I could write my project as fiction.
Citation: Khaled Saghieh, „I wish I could write my project as fiction“ – 5in10 with Khaled Saghieh, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 27.12.2016, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/5610