Middle East Studies

Conference ─ Rethinking Binational Cities: The Challenge of Israel/Palestine

Friday, September 16 –
Saturday, September 17, 2022

McKinney Conference Room, 111 Thayer Street

This conference is open to Brown University faculty and students only. Registration is required.  See the schedule below. Please register here.

On 9/15/22 at 4:30 pm, this conference will open with a talk by Eyal Weizman on Atmospheric Violence.

This conference comes in the wake of what has been called "Bloody May" of 2021, which saw major outbreaks of violence in most Arab-Jewish cities in Israel/Palestine, including Jerusalem, Acre, Haifa, Lod, Jaffa, and Beersheba. While these cities have a long history of ethnic conflict, in the past it was mainly manifested in tensions and violence between state authorities and Palestinian groups. The last eruption, however, pitted for the first time since 1948 entire civil communities against each another in widespread Palestinian-Jewish communal violence across the entire land. Indeed, these binational cities experienced what Mustafa Dikec has aptly termed “urban rage,” where long-term processes operate in tandem: ethnic and national rivalries, neo-colonialism and growing socioeconomic disparities, but also urban democracy and a measure of liberalism. These forces have created pockets of benign liberal mixing and increasing economic integration, on the one hand, and “neo-apartheid” cities, as Haim Yacobi has termed called them, on the other.

The conference will attempt to draw on these recent events as an opportunity to rethink and reassess previous understandings, paradigms, and misconceptions, rooted in a perception of these urban areas as nothing but “mixed cities.” Using multidisciplinary theoretical, historical, and comparative perspectives, the workshop will focus on the changing terms of binational coexistence between Jews and Palestinians in urban regions between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

The main guiding question for the workshop is: What are the deep causes of the recent eruption of urban violence, and what are the prospects of future peaceful coexistence? The goal is to assemble a group of scholars working on cutting-edge research, while highlighting the work of a new generation of scholars engaged in “grounded” conceptual work, both on Israel/Palestine, and on several other examples and theoretical frameworks that will provide a comparative perspective. The expected outcomes are publications and policy papers, as well as public events, all geared to substantially rethinking the past, present and future of binational cities in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere.

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

4:30 Lecture with Eyal Weizman - Atmospheric Violence,
Response given by and moderator:  Nadia L. Abu El-Haj, Professor, Barnard College

True North Classroom, Stephen Robert '62 Hall, 280 Brook Street, hosted by Dietrich Newmann, Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

6:00 Reception in the Agora, Watson, Institute, Stephen Robert '62 Hall, 280 Brook Street

Friday, September 16, 2022

Gathering and welcome 8:00-8:30

Panel 1, 8:30-10:00 — Retheorizing Urban (Bi)Nationalism

Saskia Sassen, Cities Have Long Predated (Nation) States—To What Extent Are They Still More Powerful Than National Governments?

Oren Yiftachel, Binational, Multicultural or Colonial? Theorizing ‘Mixed’ Cities from Israel/Palestine

Daniel Monterescu, Conceptualizing the Urban Uncanny: Everyday Binationalism and Ethnic Disruption in Israel/Palestine (online)

Panel 2, 10:30-12:30 — Urban Nationalism: Comparative Lenses

Ümit Kurt, Wartime Dispossession and Profiteering of Armenians in the late-Ottoman Aintab

Nihal Perera, Nationality and the City: Contemporary Transformation in Colombo

Shoshana Goldstein, Nationality and Everyday Violence in the Indian City: Lessons from the Pandemic

Commentator, Balakrishnan Rajagopal

Panel 3, 1:30-2:30 — City and Settler Colonialism

Heather Dorries, The Death and Life of Settler Colonial Cities: Necropolitics, Urbicide, and Collective Action

David Hugill, Settler Colonialism and the Politics of Relational Urban Comparison

Panel 4, 2:30-4:00 — The Darker Sides of Urban Nationalism

Omer Bartov, Perpetrators, Victims, and Neighbors: The Fate of the Jews in Buczacz, 1941-1944

Emily Roche, Genocide and the Built Environment in Warsaw, 1939-1950

Abigail Jacobson, Trapped on the Margins of Jewish-Arab existence: Musrara and Wadi Salib compared, 1949-1967

Panel 5, 4:30-5:30 — City and Nation in Israel/Palestine (1)

Nufar Avni, Co-Living in the Bi-National City?  Urban Citizenship and Spaces of Collaboration in the Shadow of Violence

Yosef Jabareen, The Dual Power of Binational Cities: The Destruction of National Supremacy and the building of recognition in the case of Haifa

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Panel 6, 9:00-10:30 — City and Nation in Israel/Palestine (2)

Nadeem Karkabi, How and Why Haifa Has Become the 'Palestinian Cultural Capital' in Israel

Nahum Karlinsky, Israel’s Decolonization, Emotions, and the 2021 Urban Riots in Israel

Yael Shmaryahu-Yeshurun and Daniel Monterescu, Chronicle of Violence Foretold? Nationalist Gentrification and Settler Expansion in Israel’s 'Mixed Cities'

Panel 7, 11:00-12:00 — City and Nation in Israel/Palestine (3)

Rami Nasrallah, Intensification of Ethnonational conflict in Jerusalem: Threats to Palestinian rights, resilience, and identity

Jonathan Rock Rokem, Challenging Conventional Norms in Mixed/Contested Cities Research: Mobility, Accessibility and Everyday life in Jerusalem

12:00 Concluding discussion