Spaces of possibility & imagination within the Palestinian/Israeli conflict: healing fractures through the dialogue of everyday behaviour

Sharif, Yara (2011) Spaces of possibility & imagination within the Palestinian/Israeli conflict: healing fractures through the dialogue of everyday behaviour. Doctoral thesis, University of Westminster.


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Coming from a place that is so divided by geo-political conflict as Palestine/Israel, it is crucial to define one’s role as an architect. Choosing an ideology of practice in such circumstances is not a technical activity; rather, it becomes an ‘ethical’ approach as well as a political statement. Architecture cannot be dissociated from political power. However, whenever it becomes a technique of executing politics, it becomes a very dangerous tool, especially if the politics aims to fragment and control. Architecture in such circumstances can lose all its meaning of creating habitable spaces and become instead a weapon to destroy. In the case of contemporary Israel in its hegemonic relationship to the Palestinian people, the lines drawn on paper are based on military expansion, destroying the space of land and space of imagination. To work against the Israeli project of marginalization, the need to rethink architecture in Palestine calls for a new ideology which can overcome the highly orchestrated matrix of Israeli occupation. The current impact of hardening the border Abstractzones in Palestine/Israel does not only bring with it division and destruction, but it also exhibits new cultural and urban realities shaped by the act of occupation, and by the corresponding will to resist and survive. One of the outstanding outcomes of such a reality is the everyday forms of Palestinian resistance, which have in their own way constructed an attitude towards the built environment and created a new character to the spaces, as well as to the official map. Those who live within these fragments are now introducing new solid facts through their everyday activities, displaying a power to resist with creative tools that architecture and planning have so far failed to achieve. In my design-based research, I will be taking Palestine as my key testing ground, looking at the spaces between people, lines, documents and maps for the meaning of architecture of resistance; searching for potential spaces of possibilities that can empower the fragmented society and bridge the gap between their divided spaces. My main focus in this PhD by Design thesis will be on understanding and revealing the informal daily forms of counter-resistance and survival tactics, which in their subversive and invisible micro scale events are cutting into the very heart of the Israeli occupation strategy. Special emphasis will be put on the ordinary citizens of Palestine, who count on the urban street as a platform for performing and living. Paradoxically, this contribution to the act of resisting Israeli occupation mightn’t require the concepts of architecture, transparency or technology in the way these have hitherto been imagined: instead, this thesis suggests an architect-figure who can sustain social behaviour and facilitate the kinds of conditions that will create more of these silent and invisible networks. Building on an understanding of these forms, and analyzing the reason behind their emergence, my outcomes will go beyond commentary into responsive design interventions for spaces of possibility and imagination along the Palestinian/Israeli frontier.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: University of Westminster > Architecture and the Built Environment > Architecture and the Built Environment, School of (No longer in use)
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2013 12:32
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2013 12:32

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