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"Neighboring and the Geopolitics of Ethnically ""Mixed Cities"""

Final Report Summary - NEGEOP (Neighbouring and the geopolitics of ethnically 'mixed cities')

Progress towards objectives

This research project lasted two years and focused on the empirical and theoretical lacunae in the existing body of knowledge that deals with contested cities in Europe and elsewhere by offering a new interdisciplinary perspective about how people and communities use, appropriate, and claim the everyday space of their neighbourhoods while advocating their own values and rights. Beyond the empirical input of this research, its intention was to contribute to the existing knowledge in urban studies and to the formulation of a theoretical basis concerning the relevance of geopolitics to the study of cities. Additionally, this project has intended to add to the growing literature on cities by contextualising the very specific - and perhaps exceptional - case of Israel within the existing experience, academic knowledge, and research on other cities.

The research was based on a micro-scale analysis focusing on the relationship between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' apparatuses of space production and the everyday life of the neighbourhoods' dwellers. Specifically, the key themes I have studied are:
(a) The housing market: price changes, reactions of the Jewish population to these changes, demonstrations and resistance against them, legal issues.
(b) Commercial activities: neighbourhood scale shopping zones, larger shopping malls, informal economic activities.
(c) Public spaces: parks and street life. The study was indeed methodologically eclectic, as it combined ideas from several disciplines. This is also true of the material under investigation, which combined both visual and textual data.

In the current final phase of my research, I can state that the research findings and theoretical investigation indeed do have a potential to contribute to the existing knowledge in urban studies and to the formulation of a theoretical basis concerning the relevance of geopolitics to the study of cities. Additionally, following my extensive field work the research has developed both conceptual and methodological frameworks for an interdisciplinary centre for the study of urban politics which I plan to establish in Israel - as stated in the proposal.

My affiliation to the department of architecture in general and to the 'Conflict in cities and the contested state' research group in particular has been significant. The shared field of interest with the other researchers who study in details other divided cities as key sites in the territorial conflicts over state and national identities, cultures, and borders has enriched my academic interest. Moreover, so has my engagement with the Martin Centre which collaborates with projects and centres that investigate urban studies, borders, conflict studies, and the politics of architecture and cities; through the Martin Centre's regular seminar program I have had the opportunity to participate in some presentations of leading scholars and also to present my own work.

In more details, and in relation to the objectives stated in the proposal, the following goals have been fully achieved:

(a) A detailed study of the geopolitics of neighbouring in Jerusalem as a 'mixed city' rather than a 'divided city'. The findings of this part of the research and their theoretical implications are outlined in an article that has been accepted to the peer reviewed journal International Development and Planning Review. Furthermore, an additional article that deals with gated communities in Jerusalem from a geopolitical perspective has been accepted to one of the leading journals, Environment and Planning A.
(b) A comparative analysis of the different forms of neighbouring in mixed cities and societies in Europe in general and in Berlin, Belfast, and Brussels in particular. Following my extensive work on this subject, I have co-authored an article (under review in Planning Theory) that deals with this subject.
(c) A theoretical interdisciplinary framework for the geopolitics of neighbouring in ethnically mixed cities, which often comprise contested communities. This objective is part of my ongoing writing and presentations.