Binational cities play a pivotal role in situations of long-term conflict, and few places have been more marked by the tension between intimate proximity and visceral hostility than Jaffa, one of the "mixed towns" of Israel/Palestine. In this nuanced ethnographic and historical study, Daniel Monterescu argues that such places challenge our assumptions about cities and nationalism, calling into question the Israeli state’s policy of maintaining homogeneous, segregated, and ethnically stable spaces. Analyzing everyday interactions, life stories, and histories of violence, he reveals the politics of gentrification and the circumstantial coalitions that define the city. Drawing on key theorists in anthropology, sociology, urban studies, and political science, he outlines a new relational theory of sociality and spatiality.
|Monterescu has carved out a domain all his own in the scholarship about minorities, ethnic conflict, and inter-ethnic relations. In this great book he once again helps us see dimensions easily overlooked in much scholarship.Based on intimate knowledge of Jaffa and its Jewish and Arab communities, and armed with both rich theoretical knowledge and human empathy, Daniel Monterescu goes back to the town of his childhood to tell us on Jews and Arabs who share this mixed town. He touches brilliantly the spaces in which the political and the personal melt into one and moments where the borders between members of national communities mist. This is not another book about "the Other" but rather a book on "Us"—members of two national communities who, during a conflict, willingly or against their will, share one space and create, tell, recreate and retell their own story and their own lives.Jaffa is arguably the most lamented and exoticized city of pre-war Palestine. In this extensive investigation into ‘the cultural logic of urban mix’ in contemporary Jaffa, Daniel Monterescu succeeds in achieving two outstanding objectives: a sober assessment of its imagined past and a provocative vision of the city’s ‘binational’ present and future. This book is essential reading for those who need to understand the processes of gentrification and ethnic conflict in this beleaguered city.Jaffa is a phenomenal laboratory for recycling human diversity into human togetherness, and Monterescu's study is a phenomenal account of this in many ways unique experience: a thought-provoking, faithful portrayal of tensions, trials, and tribulations, but also the joys of conviviality and the unbridled creative potential of a multicultural and multiethnic city.A groundbreaking ethnography of hope and despair intertwined. This brilliant book is a rare accomplishment that could have been written only by a participant observer who is intimately familiar with Palestinian and Israeli societies alike. Monterescu's argument proves beyond any doubt that a relational sociology does more justice to the study of ethnically mixed cities and to urbanism at large than traditional methodological nationalism. A major and incisive contribution.Monterescu elaborates in nine eloquent chapters how retaining Jaffa's distinctive Arabness has been a century-long dialectical struggle at five key junctures for Palestinian residents. The present juncture, characterized by "creeping gentrification," perhaps poses the most incommensurable challenges yet. As Monterescu argues, the Israeli state's neo-liberal urban planning policy might appropriate the rhetoric of "binationality" and "mutual recognition," but in practice involves the collusion of "Jewish gentrifiers and Palestinian capitalist agents" that perpetuates a homogenizing, "relational system of reciprocal oppositions." This book sets a high bar for future analyses of the politics of "coexistence" in Israel/Palestine.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Contrived Coexistence: Relational Histories of Urban Mix in Israel/Palestine
Part I. Beyond Methodological Nationalism: Communal Formations and Ambivalent Belonging
1. Spatial Relationality: Theorizing Space and Sociality in Jewish-Arab "Mixed Towns"
2. The Bridled "Bride of Palestine": Urban Orientalism and the Zionist Quest for Place
3. The "Mother of the Stranger": Palestinian Presence and the Ambivalence of Sumud
Part II. Sharing Place or Consuming Space: The Neoliberal City
4. Inner Space and High Ceilings: Agents and Ideologies of Ethnogentrification
5. To Buy or Not to Be: Trespassing the Gated Community
Part III. Being and Belonging in the Binational City: A Phenomenology of the Urban
6. Escaping the Mythscape: Tales of Intimacy and Violence
7. Situational Radicalism and Creative Marginality: The "Arab Spring" and Jaffa’s Counterculture
Conclusion: The City of the Forking Paths: Imagining the Futures of Binational Urbanism