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Shifting borders, shifting center: hedging-out uncertainty in west Jerusalem’s urban core

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This article argues that contested cities are inherently characterized by uncertainty and uses the interconnections between conflict, uncertainty and urban planning as a new analytical framework for investigating conflict cities. In the contested city of Jerusalem, geopolitical uncertainty stems from the Israeli occupation over East Jerusalem. Focusing on recent urban regeneration plans for West Jerusalem’s city center, the article explores how the municipality locates, plans and imagines the city center when the city’s external and internal boundaries are contested and unfixed. A two-tier analysis is employed. First, a historical analysis shows that the “city center”, as defined by authorities, is an unfixed locale that shifts in concurrence with shifts in the city’s boundaries. Then, a geopolitical analysis shows that by shifting the city center’s boundaries, the Israeli authorities decouple the city’s economic development (in the west) from Israel’s continuing ethno-national policies (in the east).
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Keywords: Jerusalem; Uncertainty; boundaries; city center; conflict

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Porter School of Environmental Studies, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Publication date: November 26, 2019

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