Memory and the Struggle over Geography in a Jewish-Arab ‘Mixed City’

18 January 2011, 17:15 - 19:00

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Dr Haim Yacobi (Marie Curie Visiting Fellow, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge)

 

In the last two decades, scholars from different disciplines such as political sciences, sociology, history and geography have produced a vast and rich body of knowledge that examines the production of Israeli national culture. Beyond the differences and often disagreements among the writers, they have all contributed to an understanding of the Israeli national space as a product of power relations. However, beyond the socio-historical dimension of this discussion, it is also crucial to analyze the processes by which the Israeli built environment andopen landscape were physically shaped and socially constructed. Indeed, thediscussion of architecture and town planning as socially constructed manifestations of the state is central to this paper. Just like other cultural representations, the planned landscape is also a symbol of the political power of the state, which struggles to establish a particular collective identity and no other (Swartz 1997, Vale 1992). As Foucault noted (1982), the rise of nationalism in Europe in the eighteenth century brought with it a significant change in the role of architecture. With the rise of nationalism, architecture and town planning became tools of a new political order- one that established the state as an organization that enforces territorial, social, political and cognitive order, and molds norms and rules through mechanisms of domination, exclusion and inclusion. Specifically, the objective of this talk is to expose the practices occurring within the urban space not merely as a metaphor, but also as a concrete site in which material practices, producing the physical space, are activated. Critical examination reveals how an architectural act produces aseemingly obvious meaning that contributes to the reproduction of existing power relations or challenges them. In order to provide such an examination, I will analyze the ways in which the Palestinian city of al-Ludd was transformed architectonically into the “mixed city” of Lod.

Dr. Haim Yacobi is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University and a Marie Curie Researcher at theDepartment of architecture at Cambridge University. As an architect and planner who specialized in political geography, his academic work focuses on the urban as a political, social and cultural entity. The main issues that stand in the center of his research interest in relation to the urban space are social justice, the politics of identity, migration, globalization and planning. In 1999 he formulated the idea of establishing "Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights" (NGO) and was its co-founder and chair person



Open to all. No registration required.

Part of the City Seminar series.
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