In this paper I will discuss the politics of recovery and revitalization of “the Old City” of Damascus, as part of spatial practices and discourses of the inhabitants. In Damascus, as with many global cities, exposure to the world-system is leading to a process of gentrification. The old city is being restored and transformed into a suitable area for dwelling and leisure that caters to the middle and upper classes who seek a “traditional atmosphere”. Different social actors are involved in a variety of transformations. These include: the protection of monuments, restoration of buildings, openings of restaurants, internet cafés, hotels, cultural and artistic centres, transformation of boroughs in locations for movies. In many cases the social actors involved in such transformations must confront the pre- gentrification inhabitants as they reinterpret space in different ways As the architects and engineers of the Mudīrīe al-Medīne al-Qadīme stress, Old Damascus' peculiar feature is to be a living area. Thus they stress the importance of traditional use of living space and work to avoid a clash between gentrification and the habits of dwellers. The paper discusses 1) the production of different ways of spatial representation and discourses about the space, carried out by different social actors living in the same district; 2) the malleability of the concept of traditions of built environment; 3) the encounter in a restoring site of different social worlds, to show that the lives of the social actors, even if local in their expressions, are important to understand the global processes, that are taking place across the Middle East, that objectify such ideas as history, historicity, tradition, typicalness, locality..

The Production of Valuable Space: Gentrification of the Old City of Damascus as a Field of Social Practices, Representations, and Relations1

copertino
2006-01-01

Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the politics of recovery and revitalization of “the Old City” of Damascus, as part of spatial practices and discourses of the inhabitants. In Damascus, as with many global cities, exposure to the world-system is leading to a process of gentrification. The old city is being restored and transformed into a suitable area for dwelling and leisure that caters to the middle and upper classes who seek a “traditional atmosphere”. Different social actors are involved in a variety of transformations. These include: the protection of monuments, restoration of buildings, openings of restaurants, internet cafés, hotels, cultural and artistic centres, transformation of boroughs in locations for movies. In many cases the social actors involved in such transformations must confront the pre- gentrification inhabitants as they reinterpret space in different ways As the architects and engineers of the Mudīrīe al-Medīne al-Qadīme stress, Old Damascus' peculiar feature is to be a living area. Thus they stress the importance of traditional use of living space and work to avoid a clash between gentrification and the habits of dwellers. The paper discusses 1) the production of different ways of spatial representation and discourses about the space, carried out by different social actors living in the same district; 2) the malleability of the concept of traditions of built environment; 3) the encounter in a restoring site of different social worlds, to show that the lives of the social actors, even if local in their expressions, are important to understand the global processes, that are taking place across the Middle East, that objectify such ideas as history, historicity, tradition, typicalness, locality..
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11563/169018
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