Complicating narratives of communal disharmony through analyses of everyday rhythmic practices in smaller cities, the panel explores the times and spaces of urban alterity. Papers will address the challenges urban life cycles pose to ethnonational and religious hegemonic projects.
Global cities are variously represented as utopian multiethnic, interreligious celebrations of cosmopolitan difference, or conversely as dark hives of ethnic and class conflict. Against this split narrative, smaller cities that exhibit ethnic or religious tensions are often portrayed as lacking, provincial or backwards. In light of recent developments -- including the supposed demise of multiculturalism in Europe's cities, the rise of urban Hindu nationalism in India and a surge of violence in towns across the Middle East -- we seek to complicate narratives of communal disharmony with a specific focus on those semi-peripheral smaller cities that are often overlooked by urban scholars. Thinking through these ideas rhythmically (temporally and spatially) allows ethnographers and historians to explore the everyday realities of how community is performed and circulated in smaller cities. It is our contention that inhabitants of plural cities exhibit creative marginality in the face of contrived coexistence, that the heteronomous spaces and times of cities produce contradictory logics that undermine ethnonationalist state goals, and that the mundane cycles of everyday life can destabilise seemingly hegemonic projects. The panel consists of contributions from a range of geographic settings, historical periods and methodological approaches that address the problem of alterity and its discontents in unsettled urban times and spaces.