4 Nov 2008 3:30pm - 5:00pm CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Seminar & Meeting Room


15.30 – 16.30 – CRASSH Seminar room (presentation)

16.30 – 17.00 – CRASSH Meeting room (discussion)


Speaker: Noam Leshem,  PhD Candidate at the London Consortium, University of London, and a Wingate Foundation Political Science Scholar; also a Teaching Fellow at Birkbeck College School of Humanities.

Respondent: Dr Wendy Pullan, Senior Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Architecture at the University of Cambridge; Principal Investigator for 'Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’.

Discussant: Maximillian Gwiazda, Associate academic of Pembroke College and a founding member and former president of ‘Architecture Sans Frontières – Cambridge’.

In the past eight years, since the outbreak of violence in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at the end of September 2000, Jerusalem has become a spatial microcosm that presents a pattern of relations marking a new stage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This new phase exists in a limbo between explicit, high-intensity warfare on the one hand, and a state of resolution and reconstruction that emerges in the post-conflict era. At its basis lies the assumption that this is no longer a dispute between two parties over resources and fulfilment of political aspirations, a conflict that can be solved through recourse to notions of separation, compensation and reconciliation. Instead, a perpetual state of crisis is the dominant state of affairs – one that is made imperceptible for some, yet all-invasive for others.

This session’s presentation will illustrate the notion of “contained conflict” through the spatial and visual practices that are used to render the crisis within the Arab parts of the city invisible. The presentation will illustrate how images are blocked from view that might, as reminders of previous experiences of terror, potentially disrupt the daily routine of the Jewish population of the city, and how a resulting “regime of visibility” is established. It will be suggested that this cleansing of the visual field is an inherent feature of a broader political structure that dictates the management of crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The session will also analyse particular examples that illustrate an orchestrated attempt to isolate Jewish residents from the daily reality of Arabs living in close proximity. However, attention will be also given to unique ways through which communities and individuals, Arabs and Jews, resist this imposed blindness and reinstate their presence on the surface of city.

Questions for discussion
•    What does Jerusalem’s political visual regime block from view, from whom and for what purpose?
•    How can a discussion of this visual regime reveal the political logic that governs the city at present?
•    What are the limitations of this political practice, i.e., how is it contested and how do images of violence and terror reappear into sight?
•    How did the separation wall in East Jerusalem gain such iconic status in the international perception of Jerusalem as “a city in conflict” and does this status reveal or obscure the political and spatial complexities of Jerusalem?
•    The “contained conflict” in Jerusalem is inherently dialectic: it is often unclear who is initiating and who is the subject of this containment. How does this process see across broad ethno-national division lines and reappear in other – ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural – points of friction?



Part of Post-Conflict & Post-Crisis Research Colloquium


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk