The urban ecology of ethno-national divided cities and the paving of their gentrification through the arts

Evanthia Tselika
Dr Evanthia Tselika
  Assistant Professor, University of Nicosia


This paper examines ethno-nationally divided cities and how the arts are used in such divided city contexts for purposes of conflict transformation and urban regeneration. Three ethno-nationally divided cities at different stages of conflict resolution --Jerusalem, Nicosia, Belfast-- are juxtaposed and explored through an inter-disciplinary framework. Ethno-nationally divided cities, which have become defined by their separation, are increasingly being studied and examined, compared and contrasted, not only in efforts to understand a common urban experience but also so as to better understand how partition politics develop and how they can best be avoided. Even though all cities are divided (Hall 2004), few are the cities where identity politics become so clearly visualized through the urban ecology of military division, buffer zones and the underlying possibility of military violence. It is also the reason why such millieux become an interesting framework through which to understand the market of conflict and to reflect on this through a post-marxist understanding on collectivities and identity formation.

Parallel practices are noted in these three urban milieus, in the use of art to assist the conflict resolution processes and to create contact zones which facilitate social transformation and lead to a process of de-segregation. This juxtaposition demonstrates how art is been used in regeneration projects, at different stages of the de-segregation process of ethno-nationally divided cities, and how these de-segregation processes can potentially give rise to new patterns of divisions and patterns of gentrification. The paper will touch upon issues of soft power and gentrification processes, the conflict resolution market as an industry and the play of identity politics in ethno-nationally divided city contexts.

Borderlands - Culture - Urban - segregation - art - conflict