Re-urbanizing Palestine: “Cultural Spaces” and Palestinian Urbanity
Seventy years after Israel’s sweeping attempts to de-urbanize Palestinian social life, Palestinians have forged alternative cultural and intellectual initiatives to revive their disrupted urbanity. The year 2019 witnessed some of these cultural and intellectual initiatives materializing in the streets of Haifa, with a massive mobilization of Palestinian feminists and LGBTQ activists. By taking to the streets, Palestinian grassroots activists along with feminist and queer civil society organizations, were speaking out against patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist oppression.This project scrutinizes the relationships between neoliberalism, globalization, settler colonial local urban policies and new strategies of resistance in the realm of culture and urban activism. It explores transformations in spatial social power relations in Haifa since the 1990’s, a period often described as one of new beginnings in Arab thought, social, and artistic practices.
This project examines the interaction between macro and micro politics, the continuous struggle over urban space, and the way Palestinians live and re-claim their city today. It investigates strategies and civic practices to challenge existing political and spatial power relations, as well as internal social constrains to re-gain urban spaces, and to practice (an imagined) a de-colonized and inclusive urban space inside Israel.
Culture Spaces and “The Right to the City”: Palestinians in Israel as a Case Study
Seventy years after Israel’s sweeping attempts to de-urbanize Palestinian social life, Palestinians in Israel have forged alternative cultural and intellectual initiatives to practice their “right to the city” in Israel. This project builds on my doctoral research which examined the production of Israel colonial urban space through the destruction of urban Palestinian space in Israel between 1948 and 1953. Building on how power relations shape space, people, and social interaction, this project broadens this scope by exploring transformations in spatial social power relations in Haifa. It examines the interaction between macro and micro politics, the continuous struggle between colonial power and the colonized over urban space, and the way Palestinians, living their city today, challenge spatial and social power relations to reproduce urban space. This project builds on a growing body of knowledge on the interplay between culture, as everyday practice, and cultural city policy making as a global urban phenomenon. It contributes to two bodies of literature: on settler colonial cities and on cultural resistance. The project critically examines the relationships between neoliberalism, globalization, local urban policies and cultural resistance, using “Palestinian cultural pockets” in “mixed cities” in Israel as a case study.