Van No. 4 is a mini bus that connects Dahiyeh, the southern suburbs, to Beirut. To enter the "world" of Van No. 4 and its community, to be a rider on its line, to abide by its timing and its cycles, is to enter into it as a witness, listener, or participant in its debates and dialogues that reflect the reality of the social, political, and religious “line” the van travels in the past, present, and future. The conversations of Van No. 4 are the embodiment of the conversations of the alleys and neighborhoods of the Dahiyeh that travel to and from the city.
The Dahiyeh has become the heart and the home of the Lebanese Shiites, having brought with them their connections and history of the South, the Bekaa, and Mount Lebanon. It is now the main destination and center of overlapping and contradictory identities of the deprived and the protected, the displaced and the united, the weak and the strong, and the oppressor and the oppressed.
UMAM Documentation and Research (UMAM D&R) is launching this publication dedicated to this journey and opening the door to all Lebanese writers, analysts, and researchers to join us on this trip of historical and contemporary exploration. The idea of Van No. 4 as a publication originated in 2015 with Lokman Slim, UMAM D&R’s co-founder and co-director until his assassination on 3 February 2021. UMAM D&R is therefore reactivating the publication that will address Slim’s legacy and UMAM D&R’s work as intricately connected with the Dahiyeh and its past, present, and future. For now, the publication is in Arabic, but in the future it will also include some sections in English.