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Spatial Conflicts: Urban, political and Cultural Implications of Violent Events.

Final Activity Report Summary - SC-UPCV (Spatial Conflicts: Urban, political and Cultural Implications of Violent Events)

Throughout the history of cities, protests and acts of aggression have been embedded within urban life. Especially since the beginning of the 20th century, challenges to the social order have forced politicians to court the masses in public arenas, the same arenas that were also used as platforms to resist political rule. These assemblies, whether supportive of or resistant to the government, take place in a concrete time and space, thus spawning powerful relationships between place and protest.

Through addressing these relationships, this research offered a window into how people use, manipulate, claim and appropriate urban space while advocating for their own values. We had no coherent theory explaining the relationship between space and contentious politics thus far. We had significant empirical and theoretical accounts of how prevailing forms of popular struggle varied and changed from one political regime to another, but there were little written about the spatial physicality of these struggles.

This research sought to further understand the phenomena of dissent. It contributed to this goal by setting the rather abstract notions of citizenship and democracy into a concrete framework of time, place and meaning. The specific research aims were:
1. to build an analytical, interdisciplinary framework for the spatial physicality of dissent;
2. to advance a comparative display of forms of citizenship and cultural identities. This framework shed light on the role of organisations and individuals devoted to the quest for social justice;
3. to offer significant new perspectives on how different and changing notions and practices of citizenship were related to our multicultural society.

For further information on the project findings please see the book entitled 'Revisioning moments: violent acts and urban space in contemporary Tel Aviv', from the University of Texas Press (spring 2010, English) and Resling Press (Hebrew, 2008). Related papers were published in a wide range of journals, including the 'Journal of Urban Design International', the 'Journal of Architecture', the 'Journal of Architecture and Planning Research', and 'Planning Perspectives'.

In addition, see the website of the interactive multimedia exhibition, 'urban design and civil protest', which was displayed at the Compton Gallery at MIT Museum (please see http://www.urbandesign-civilprotest.com/ online). Another exhibition, entitled 'contemporary urban actions', was recently on display at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal (CCA). The book entitled 'Urban design and civil protests: a contemporary mediation', which was particularly engaged with the spatial physicality of dissent was forthcoming by the University of Texas Press by the time of the project completion.