Introduction - Cities
4 - 5 p.
cities, Middle East, urban space
Many non-scholarly and scholarly accounts on the societies, culture, and political economy of the Middle East post-“Arab Uprisings/Spring” still deal with cities and regions as mere repositories of social, cultural, political, and economic action—despite the spatial turn that has informed social sciences and humanities for more than three decades. Indeed, they often overlook the shaping roles of the built and natural environments in the production of events unraveling in cities and regions of the Middle East. We thus need to understand cities and regions not only as backgrounds and contexts for processes and practices, but rather as environments that have determining impacts on these, and that human interactions also shape. Since its launch in September 2013, Jadaliyya’s Cities Page has been committed to producing such informed, empirical, and integrated knowledge, where the spatial engages and intersects with historical, political, economic, technological, legal, social, and cultural analysis. These are some of the questions we committed to address five years ago: How and why does urban space contribute to public action and social movements? What is the relationship between power, space, and resistance? How do different groups utilize space to mobilize and facilitate collective action? Which forces that shape space (physical and technological, as well as social, historical, political, and economic) are combined to guide this action? More broadly, how do specific historical, national policies, and global forces shape cities? How are different inequalities constituted by urban life and how do they reconstitute the city? How do the ordinary practitioners of the city negotiate, navigate, appropriate, resist, and transform urban forms?