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The Limits of Peaceful Co-existence: Jewish-Arab Relations, Urban Space and State Violence in Palestinian-Israeli Mixed Towns, 1882 to the Present


As part of a larger project on ethnic relations in Mediterranean Cities, this research examines how urban space, violent conflict and national identities have been both represented and produced in ethnically mixed cities in Israel/Palestine. Against the background of a century-long conflict between the Jewish and Palestinian national movements, this project studies the relations between opposing “projects of nativization” and community building efforts in a contested urban setting. While most scholars conceptualize these collective identities as separate projects – defined only by the exclusion and negation of the other – I focus instead on the relations of mutual determination between local communities often rendered invisible in Palestinian-Israeli studies. Thus, the study posits mixed towns as a challenge to the ethno-nationalist guiding principles of the Israeli state, which ultimately fails to maintain segregated and ethnically stable spaces. This failure results in the parallel existence of heteronomous spaces in these cities – operating through multiple, often contradictory logics of space, class, nation and governance. Analyzed relationally, these spaces produce a peculiar form of quotidian social relations between Arabs and Jews as well as new forms of local identities that challenge both Palestinian and Jewish nationalisms. Focusing on cities like Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Lydda and Ramla, I historicize the problematic place they occupy in the Israeli and Palestinian popular, political and sociological imagination. Through ethnographic, statistical and historical analysis I show how Jewish and Palestinian citizens, implicated in relations of interdependence, strive to define their respective collective identity. These processes serve as a lens through which the research engages a wider set of questions in political sociology and urban anthropology regarding ethnicity, citizenship, and identity-making as embedded in practices of “making place.”

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EU contribution
€ 163 304,41
50014 Fiesole

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Centro (IT) Toscana Firenze
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Serena Scarselli (Ms.)
Total cost
No data