Our Favorite Essays of 2021

At a Moment Where There Are No Easy Answers, Zócalo Contributors Asked Unexpected, Tough—and Sometimes Quixotic—Questions

It felt like 2021 was a year of firsts—the first rollout of new vaccine technology; the first insurrection in Washington, D.C.; the first female U.S. vice president; and the first time many of us returned to public life after many months at home. But if we learned anything from the approximately 200 essays we published at Zócalo over these past 12 months, it’s that almost everything has a precedent, for better and for worse.

From a world leader retreating from an unwinnable foreign war (Emperor Hadrian, circa 117 A.D.) to the …

Lebanon’s Other Explosion | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Lebanon’s Other Explosion

When Disasters Become the Norm, People Stop Paying Attention—But I’m Still Telling This Country’s Stories

It was the explosion that drove home to me how irrevocably Lebanon was broken.

Not the horrific August 4, 2020 Beirut port explosion, when a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate exploded, …

A Letter From Beirut, Where the Taxis Have Resumed Honking | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Letter From Beirut, Where the Taxis Have Resumed Honking

Amid Lebanon’s Economic Collapse, Fear of the Virus Briefly Amended the Social Contract

The eeriest thing about Beirut’s streets during the first weeks of the quarantine—the lull between two storms, before the protesters returned to the streets and started throwing Molotov cocktails at …

An American in Lebanon Encounters Trump Supporters Far From Home

Why Some Lebanese Consider the U.S. President-Elect a “Real Man”

A few weeks after I arrived in Lebanon to volunteer with Syrian refugees, I learned that my plan to offer an English class for both Lebanese and Syrian youth in …

Unibrow Battles and Growing Up Lebanese

It Was Easy to Buy a Pair of Tweezers. It Was Tougher to Figure Out Who I Was in Post-9/11 America.

Elementary and middle school yearbooks are laid out across my childhood bedroom in perfect rows, organized in chronological order, open to my class pages. Glancing over the faces of former …