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Cities and Sovereignty

Identity Politics in Urban Spaces

Edited by Diane E. Davis and Nora Libertun de Duren

Publication Year: 2011

Cities have long been associated with diversity and tolerance, but from Jerusalem to Belfast to the Basque Country, many of the most intractable conflicts of the past century have played out in urban spaces. The contributors to this interdisciplinary volume examine the interrelationships of ethnic, racial, religious, or other identity conflicts and larger battles over sovereignty and governance. Under what conditions do identity conflicts undermine the legitimacy and power of nation-states, empires, or urban authorities? Does the urban built environment play a role in remedying or exacerbating such conflicts? Employing comparative analysis, these case studies from the Middle East, Europe, and South and Southeast Asia advance our understanding of the origins and nature of urban conflict.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v-vi

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii

The idea for this volume originated in the context of a larger initiative at MIT devoted to imagining the conditions under which Jerusalem might become a city of peace by the year 2050. Many of the chapters in this volume are revised versions of papers presented at a spring 2004 seminar series titled Cities against Nationalism: Urbanism as Utopian Politics, convened as a precursor to the Jerusalem 2050...

A Note on Dates

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pp. ix

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Introduction: Identity Conflicts in the Urban Realm

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pp. 1-14

Globalization and recent transformations in the international political system have catapulted the politics of identity into the contemporary lexicon and limelight. In contrast to much of the twentieth century, when the modern nation-state served as a source of national unity and party or class politics mediated between citizens and the state, in the current epoch political allegiances...

Part 1. Modes of Sovereignty, Urban Governance, and the City

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1. Jerusalem at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: Spatial Continuity and Social Fragmentation

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pp. 17-27

In Jerusalem, modernity started in the ninth day of December 1917, when the British forces commanded by (future Sir) Allenby entered the city, ending more than four hundred years of Ottoman rule. Until then, the univocal mapping of national institutions with territorial boundaries was foreign to the Holy City. At the end of the nineteenth century, Jerusalem had been—not for the first time...

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2. Imperial Nationhood and Its Impact on Colonial Cities: Issues of Inter-group Peace and Conflict in Pondicherry and Vietnam

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pp. 28-58

This volume examines conflicts within cities through the lens of political institutions and social identities that operate on a variety of scales. Colonial cities of the French Empire hosted a multiplicity of institutions and identities. This was not just because most colonial cities were places where interaction among various ethnic and national groups took place, but also because the requisites of urban...

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3. Confessionalism and Public Space in Ottoman and Colonial Jerusalem

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pp. 59-82

For many observers, Jerusalem epitomizes a “city of identities”; an ultimate geography defined by sharp ethnic and religious divisions, where distinct social groups worship and live in separate quarters.1 While the city does contain a plethora of holy sites worshiped by the three Abrahamic traditions, civic identities and spatial logics have not always fallen into such broadly cast categories drawn around...

Part 2. Scales of Sovereignty and the Remaking of Urban and National Space

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4. Sovereignty, Nationalism, and Globalization in Bilbao and the Basque Country

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pp. 85-116

What role does Bilbao, a key urban node in the economic prosperity of the Basque region, play in the over 100 years of history of politically organized Basque nationalism and its fight for independence? How have the structural features of the Basque region’s political economy and its multiscalar linkages with the Spanish nation-state been molded or influenced by urban policies in Bilbao? Further, does...

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5. Contesting the Legitimacy of Urban Restructuring and Highways in Beirut’s Irregular Settlements

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pp. 117-151

The struggle between the state and particular social groups seeking recognition or independence is generally depicted in the context of direct and sometimes violent conflicts such as guerrilla warfare, terrorist attacks, or the coercive state occupation of strategic spatial locations. However, open conflicts are only a part of how politics of identity are manifested, and it is possible to investigate how these...

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6. Urban Locational Policies and the Geographies of Post-Keynesian Statehood in Western Europe

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pp. 152-175

In this chapter, I argue that urban governance restructuring provides an illuminating analytical window through which to explore some of the broader transformations of state space and state sovereignty that have been unfolding across western Europe during the last thirty years.1 From this perspective, the entrepreneurial, growth-oriented approaches to urban governance that have proliferated...

Part 3. Sovereignty, Representation, and the Urban Built Environment

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7. Iconic Architecture and Urban, National, and Global Identities

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pp. 175-195

The material, ideological, and symbolic roles of architecture in the formation and/or the expression of identities is a fairly well established, even if under-researched, motif in the histories of both architecture and politics. My argument is that buildings and spaces that become acknowledged expressions of local/urban, national, or global identities overlap in interesting ways with what has come to be known...

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8. The Temptations of Nationalism in Modern Capital Cities

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pp. 196-208

In a world riven by ethnic, racial, and nationalist conflicts, there is much appeal to the idea that cities might be able to transcend the pressures of their embeddedness in nation-states, and that an urban-centered identity could rally less destructive sorts of allegiances. One promising venue for testing such claims is the capital city, since—by definition—such places need to represent the seat of...

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9. Hurvat haMidrash—The Ruin of the Oracle: Louis Kahn’s Influence on the Reconstruction of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem

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pp. 209-225

The most significant event to transform the Old City of Jerusalem in recent history was a presentation given at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on 28 July 1968. On that day, an architectural model showing a reconstructed Jewish Quarter was unveiled by Louis Kahn before the Israeli public and the ministerial committee responsible for the restoration of the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish American...

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Conclusion: Theoretical and Empirical Reflections on Cities, Sovereignty, Identity, and Conflict

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pp. 226-256

This book has examined the interrelationships between ethnic, racial, religious, or other identity conflicts and larger battles over sovereignty and governance, particularly as seen through the lens of cities and the urban built environment. Such analytical concerns may seem particularly appropriate for the study of Jerusalem, a city widely discussed in this volume from a variety of temporal, ...

List of Contributors

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pp. 257-258


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pp. 259-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780253005069
E-ISBN-10: 025300506X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253355775

Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2011