Dr Ghalya Saadawi

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer in Research Architecture, 2019-20
Department Visual Cultures
Email G.Saadawi (@gold.ac.uk)
Dr Ghalya Saadawi

Saadawi earned a PhD from Goldsmiths in Sociology in 2015. Her dissertation underscored the art practices and theoretical considerations that informed a rethinking of witnessing after the declared end of the Lebanese civil wars via attention to a critique of post-war ideology and forms of representation.

Thus, against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War and the neoliberal context of the Lebanese politic – and against the reliance on memory and trauma models – the thesis read select art and documentary practices through the political, historical and theoretical entanglements and discourses of the mid-to-late 20th century, paying attention to formal tactics and content through the lens of an extended political modernism. 

In the early 2000s, following her MSc at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Saadawi was researcher and consultant for numerous Lebanese and international NGOs, while teaching undergraduate sociology courses in Beirut.

Currently, she is adjunct lecturer in the department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut and at The Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, Balamand University, and theory faculty at the Dutch Art Institute, where she teaches courses on 20th and 21st art with an emphasis on social art history and critical theory, including post-Marxist critiques and more recent turns to and critiques of realism and materialism in art theory.

Between 2015-2017, she was Resident Professor of the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace Program (Beirut). In December 2018, she was Mercator Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Cultures of Critique Research Training Group at Leuphana University, Luneberg, Germany.

Saadawi is also co-editor of Makhzin, a nascent magazine for new writing in English and Arabic, and she is affiliated with the Beirut Institute for Critical Research and Analysis (BICAR). Together with others, she is working towards the development of an Art Protocol, a long-term research project, platform and framework that considers regulation and law in contemporary art institutions and infrastructures.


Conflicts and Negotiations (MA Research Architecture)
BA Fine Art and History of Art (3rd-year special topics in Research Architecture)

Select recent panels

Panel “What Representations?" with Marwa Arasanios, Tony Chakar, Hicham Ashkar and Hanan Toukan. Witte de With Contemporary Art Museum, Rotterdam, Holland, May 26, 2016.

“To Make Mountains Out of Fields: One Rewriting of 'Beirut's Postwar Contemporary Art'", talk at the Beirut Art Center (BAC), Beirut, March 1, 2017.

“Beirut: Art, Education, Institutions, Politics", panel organizer and speaker, School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York City, March 16, 2017.

“From Geo to Tempo and Rethinking the Local in the Contemporary Art Transnational", paper presented at the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts, August 2, 2017.

“Borrowing Enjoyment", paper presented as part of the Dutch Art Institute's Roaming Academy, October 22, 2017.

“The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Salon, Anti-Salon, Contemporary Art", paper presented as part of Contextualizing the Art Salon in the Arab Region Conference, Sursock Museum and Orient Institute Beirut, October 27-28, 2017.

“The Witness, Art and Social Reproduction", paper presented as part of The Afterlives of Witnessing: Moving Images from the Levant and the Political Imagination Symposium, Brown University, Providence Rhode Island, November 4, 2017.

Research Interests

Teaching and supervision include: witnessing and testimony; Lebanese visual art, documentary, and film; modern and contemporary art theory and history; social theory; aesthetics and politics; critical art theory; contemporary art and transnationalism; globalization and cultural politics; time and the contemporary; art and law; among others.