The Question of Public Space: From Ideology to Real-Urbanism

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Joel Migdal argues that the concept of public space has been idealized by various socio-political philosophers who claim that public space is a space of meeting points that form the basic condition for the creation of ‘the public’. Contrarily, Migdal suggests a perception of public space as a space of conflict between forces of inclusion and exclusion in unequal societies. Following Migdal, this article portrays ethnography of struggle in public space in Musrara, a Jerusalem seam line neighborhood. The research is based within the contexts of the neighborhood's history and the concentration of crime events and urban violence along that seam line. The research conducted analyzed the negotiations between the architects who were invited by the Jerusalem Municipality to plan and design the seam line between East and West Jerusalem and Musrara neighborhood residents regarding public space. Two oppositional views were apparent: the architects' perception that public space is a meeting point and therefore encouraged density as a tool of personal security versus the residents' wish to block the neighborhood's wall gates for the creation of defined urban territory. This study offers an understanding of the real-urbanism of Jerusalem's public space as a battlefield between connectivity and separation, exclusion and inclusion.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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