SIEF2015 12th Congress: Zagreb, Croatia.
21-25 June 2015
Cities of the forking paths: intercommunal (dis)harmony and the rhythms of everyday life
Date and Start Time 22 June, 2015 at 10:30
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.
Chair: Daniel Monterescu and Ian Cook (CEU)
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Cohabitating: everyday peace and conflict in Cyprus and Northern Ireland
This paper sheds light on the complexities of everyday life with the enemy. Its use of a relational approach to investigation and analysis allows a shift from coexistence to cohabitation. It builds on fieldwork in Potamia, Pyla, Nicosia and London (Haringay) 2000-2006 and in Belfast 2013-2014.
This paper sheds light on the complexities of everyday life with the enemy. Its use of a relational approach to investigation and analysis allows a shift from coexistence to cohabitation. It goes beyond a comparative examination of the simultaneous existence of two populations or categories or an understanding of the complexities of the 'global' affecting the 'simplicity' of the 'local' to address (dis)harmony through the actual complex relational experiences of co-inhabitants. Its comparative analysis of different cohabitations within a single conflict zone (individualizing comparison), in this case Cyprus and with other conflicts zones, here Northern Ireland, illuminates the rhythms, times and temporalities of conflict transformation and questions the global neo-Wilsonian peace paradigm. Fieldwork in Potamia, Pyla, Nicosia and London (Haringay) 2000-2006 and in Belfast 2013-2014 suggests the study of cohabitation permits a more thorough understanding of conflict and peace potentialities 'from within'. Ultimately, as the analysis moves from small border villages and cities in Cyprus to the neighborhoods of the global city of London and the UK peripheral border city of Belfast, we can posit another understanding of urban transformations and rethink the scales of violence and peace potentialities beyond the territoriality of the city.
Restructuring religion in the urban public sphere: the changing locations of non-establishment synagogues in the city of Acre
This paper examines the ways, means and extent in which religion shapes the urban public sphere.
The literature on modern planning tended to disregard the importance of religion in general, and religion institutions in particular, to the different relations and interactions of the urban public space. However, as cities are becoming more and more culturally heterogenic, ethnically diverse and significantly more poly-cultural in nature, there is a growing relevance for understanding and deciphering the functions of religious loci within the city. This paper examines what happens to public religious institutions when the urban sphere which used to sustain them, and for which they were constructed in the first place, undergoes substantial social and political changes. The chosen case study deals with urban synagogues in the mixed city of Acre in Northern Israel. A considerable number of these houses of prayers were originally used in order to commemorate a specific ethnic identity of disenfranchised Jewish immigrant communities. However, significant demographic alterations in the pattern and landscape of the Israeli city in general and Acre in particular, which resulted among other things, from a national strategy of Judaization, have affected these synagogues' ascribed functions. More specifically, due to various causes the number of Palestinian residents within neighborhoods that were mainly populated by immigrants Jews have significantly increased. The urban demographic shift have led the latter to re-envision the synagogue as a national stronghold in the city rather than a site of memory and heritage. The paper explores the contours of this shift, and place it vis-à-vis the overall discussion on religious social institutions in the contemporary urban sphere.
Urban polyrhythmicity: whose place is it?
The paper explores the “urban polyrhythmia” on the example of the Czech city Brno. Observing and analyzing the rhythmical profile of several urban localities it depicts how the different temporalities compete, clash or fuse in the space of middle-sized city.
Urban place can be defined not only by its spatial attributes, but also through its affiliation to a particular spatio-temporal system. The aggregation of individual activities present in typical locations in typical times (at home during the night, in the workplace during the day, etc.) may help establish a specific place temporality, which stems from a rhythmical presence/absence of people, activities, things, but also noises or smells. Place can be perceived as a spatially bounded constellation of the multiple rhythms or as a kind of Lefebvre's polyrhythmicity.
The goal of the paper is to explore the "urban polyrhythmia" on the example of the Czech city Brno. Observing and analyzing the rhythmical profile of several urban localities we aim to depict how the different temporalities compete, clash or fuse in the space of middle-sized city. The attention is paid not only to up-to-date overlaying multiplicity of rhythms but also to the industrial and socialist past of the city shaping everyday negotiations of "typical times and typical places". We ask what are the dominant rhythms producing the timespace identity of the localities of interest as well as what are their agents and pacemakers. The paper should highlight the unsettled nature of urban place and the role of rhythms in its temporal colonization or appropriation.
Rhythmic scales in Mediterranean cities: reciprocal otherness and anti-structure in Jaffa and beyond
Binational cities challenge the national order of things. Seen up-close as a scale question, the mixed city is "a mediation among mediations" between communities and the state. As a system of reciprocal oppositions the city produces a series of urban rhythms vis-à-vis self and Other.
Binational cities in Israel/Palestine challenge the national order of things. These "mixed" cities bring to the fore the hegemonic power of (Jewish) territorial nationalism while resisting its very foundations. Seen up-close as a scale question, the mixed city is "a mediation among mediations" as Henri Lefebvre has put it, but one that disrupts the sequential mediation between the urban and the national scale, and assumes its identity by the act of disrupting. Against the ethnocratic rationality of the state (its raison d'état) rebels an alternative relational rationality of the urban scale. As a system of reciprocal oppositions the mixed city produces a series of urban rhythms vis-à-vis the state and the Other: developmental rhythms of gentrification, political rhythms of collective action, communal rhythms of religious rituals and economic rhythms of consumption. Drawing on ethnographic research centered in Jaffa, this paper analyzes the work of rhythms and the violence of pluralism. From this ongoing struggle—played out in the interaction between rhythms of action and scales of rule—emerges Jaffa sui generis, shared and shattered.
The cycles of impermanent alterity in Nazaré
What happens when a small city expands from 15000 to 100000 inhabitants in the summer time? Impermanent alterity explains the relationship between land and water, between ‘I’ and the ‘other,’ making visible the cycles of summer-winter, by unfolding their network of lived time interconnections.
What happens when a small city expands from 15000 to 100000 inhabitants in the summer time?
Because of its extensive beach and remarkable waves Nazaré has been a vacation destination since the 50s. Tourists from all over the world come here between July and September to enjoy this landscape. Who and how many come here? How do these temporary inhabitants change the rhythms of Nazaré's everyday life? How do year-round residents adapt to embrace so many 'others'? How do both interact and create connections that last long after a once a-year visit, or repeating year after year to return to the same place and to 'friends' they left? How does this massive tourism change the supporting life activities of Nazaré's inhabitants becoming complementary to the fishing activity, or even replacing it? Is this seemingly rigid urban fabric elastic enough to expand and adapt to these exponential 'others'?
Impermanent alterity explains the relationship between land and water, between 'I' and the 'other' that comes here to step onto the warm sand during the summer days, making visible the cycles of summer-winter, by unfolding their network of lived time interconnections in simple things like the grey line organizing the sidewalk appropriation, a device that adapts matter to the cycles of change. Many others exist.
Time is the operator of this impermanent alterity. How do we make it visible? According to Corner, (1999) it is through mapping, a practice of creative representation that crosses fieldwork with interdisciplinary data. The results presented here are part of a larger research presented at EAUM.
Osijek's urban influence on counternarratives to nationalism in a formerly occupied Croatian village
Based on 15 months of ethnographic research, this paper analyzes the influence of the city of Osijek in creating counternarratives against and complicating public manifestations of Croatian nationalism among young adults living in a formerly occupied village.
Master commemorative narratives (Yael Zerubavel), the stories that the nation tells to itself and to the world about itself, are one of the most effective tools of mnemonic socialization (Eviatar Zerubavel) that functions to create a national imaginary. However, they are never static or uncontested - counternarratives and countermemories (Michel Foucault) confront and destabilize them. This paper analyzes the influence of the Croatian city of Osijek in creating counternarratives to hegemonic nationalism among young adults living in a nearby formerly occupied village. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic research conducted between 2012-2014, it examines how men and women in their twenties who work, socialize, and attend university in Osijek (with a population of around 100,000), but live outside of the urban zone complicate public manifestations of Croatian nationalism, shaped predominantly by memories of the Homeland War. Circulating between two worlds - one marked by memories of war and, at times, still reverberating with ethnic tension, and the other offering the opportunities of an urban life free of those memories - the youth generally shift back and forth between the nationalist narrative of their elders and a narrative of reconciliation, produced by the possibilities that the nearby urban life offers. Tracing the complexities that mark the experiences of these youth, this paper aims to underscore the pivotal role that space plays in constructing, maintaining, and, at the same time, challenging the notion of the "imagined community" and master commemorative narratives after times of ethnic conflict.
Inside out: the public times and spaces of caste and community in a smaller Indian city
Mangaluru's occasionally violent inter-communal relations, often contradicted by the rhythms of everyday urban life, are analysed through changing conceptions of what is acceptable behaviour in the city's public times and spaces.
Mangaluru, a smaller city on the south-west Indian coast, has gained domestic notoriety in recent years for its particularly active far-right Hindu-nationalist groups and self styled "moral policemen". These groups regularly create media frenzies when they attack cross-community couples, storm parties where they suspect young Muslim men to be socialising with Hindu women and attack church congregations. However, during the eighteen months I spent in the city, this (often external) discourse of communal strife was undercut by everyday rhythms of co-operation, friendship and love. Moreover, whilst a cursory glance at the topography of the institutions in the city shows numerous caste and community formations - from hotels to colleges - the practices of Mangaloreans often defy mono-communal logics (Muslim parents send they children to Christian schools, Hindus choose to marry in Muslim owned community halls). In this paper, after mapping some of the ways in which caste/community is weaved into the urban fabric, I argue that the increase in vigilantism - whilst in part explained through the growth of the Hindutva political project, (global) anti-Muslim sentiments and sharpening class divisions - is primarily a struggle over the times and spaces of public city life; around what is and is not acceptable behaviour in the street; about the clashing rhythmic performance of urbanities in a rapidly changing smaller city
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.