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Ottonostalgias and Urban Apartheid

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A widespread nostalgia for the Ottoman period is visible in numerous urban regeneration projects proliferating across the Middle East. This article explores how Ottoman heritage in Palestine and Istanbul both propels oppressive sociospatial schemes and forms the basis for social movements formed to contest these schemes. In Istanbul, the banner of urban regeneration has been used to expropriate and displace local populations in a context marked by rapidly escalating real estate values and huge profits realized by developers allied with an entrepreneurial political class. The politically-driven heritagization occurring in Istanbul uncannily resembles the efforts aggressively pushed forward by an alliance between Israeli settlers and the government in Israel/Palestine – a form of class cleansing as opposed to a predominantly ethnic one targeting Palestinians. In response, Palestinian heritage organizations are endeavouring to rehabilitate old cities in towns and villages of the West Bank, in an attempt to improve the economic and social livelihoods of Palestinians and help them resist colonization.
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Keywords: Hebron; Istanbul; Ottoman heritage; heritagization; urban development; urban regeneration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Amsterdam

Publication date: July 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA) is intended for those interested in urban design and planning, architecture, and landscape design in the historic Islamic world, encompassing the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, but also the more recent geographies of Islam in its global dimensions. The main emphasis is on detailed analysis of the practical, historical and theoretical aspects of architecture, with a focus on both design and its reception. The journal is also specifically interested in contemporary architecture and urban design in relation to social and cultural history, geography, politics, aesthetics, technology, and conservation. Spanning across cultures and disciplines, IJIA seeks to analyze and explain issues related to the built environment throughout the regions covered. The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary nature of this journal will significantly contribute to the knowledge in this field.

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