Spring Term Meeting (12 June 2008)
 


Spring Term Meeting

(12 June 2008)

Jim Brennan, Bruce Stanley​

Discussing Cities
On 12th June the spring term meeting of Discussing Cities, a lunch time conversation group was held at AKU-ISMC. Each term, Discussing Cities invites scholars from around the world to discuss cities from a variety of different disciplinary perspectives, while contemplating the methodology used from the point of view of others researchers' work and experiences.

 

Discussing Cities invites scholars from around the world to discuss cities from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

At the second Discussing Cities seminar Jim Brennan spoke about segregation and gentrification in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Bruce Stanley discussed the effects of conflict on cities in the Middle East, with a focus on Amman, Jordan.

Segregation and Gentrification in Indian Ocean Dar es Salaam
Brennan's presentation, Segregation and Gentrification in Indian Ocean Dar es Salaam, explored the urban history of Dar es Salaam. Founded as an imperial city in the mid-19th century by the Sultan of Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam became an important urban centre in the 1890s when it became the capital of German East Africa.

Subsequently, German colonial authorities divided the city into three official zones: a 'European' zone, an 'Asian' zone and an 'African' zone. These three zones informed official planning regulations until the 1950s.

 

Brennan explains his work looking at segregation and gentrification in Dar es Salaam.

"Zone one being the least populated, European zone… zone two being the zone of occupation also called the commercial zone, interestingly enough, for Asians, and zone three being the zone for African settlement... So you have zones that are split into a tripartite scheme where race and occupation are the defining elements," Brennan explained.

During the 1920s, the defining urban policy was one of segregation. Significantly, however, although segregation was the nominal policy, a majority of people complained about Indians moving into the African neighbourhoods and the resulting increase in rental prices.

The result was that Africans were pushed out of their original neighbourhoods and further away from the centre. Increases in the cost of rent provided a new source of political conflict, caused largely by gentrification resulting from mass migration due to economic opportunities.

The conflict arose partially from a separation in the administration of the city. The town council managed the urban environment for Europeans and Indians, which propagated gentrification and investment. A second administrative organisation, the provincial office for African affairs, saw segregation as a possible protection against the results of gentrification.

 

AKU-ISMC visiting lecturer Farouk Topan asks a question related to segregation and gentrification in Dar es Salaam.

"As a result, the important decision was to allow the forces of gentrification to continue. And by the 1940s you have a significant Indian population in the African area. At that point they move from segregation as a policy to controls on the cost of living."

From this, Brennan concluded that there were a number of processes which have resulted from a policy of segregation. One was a deep cynicism among African landlords who become wealthy as a result of gentrification, but also become politically important partially as a result of anti-Indian sentiment. Another is that segregation can have counter-intuitive aspects to it, in this case Africans seizing the policy as a form of protection against the results of gentrification.

In conclusion, Brennan noted that although Dar es Salaam is an overwhelmingly Muslim city, the city was divided spatially along racial lines. In the 1920s there were, however, two ambitious attempts at pan-Islamic unity which explicitly attempt to transcend racial and national differences. However, neither of these was successful in breaking the barriers between historically segregated groups of people.

"The first, Anjuman Islamiyya, was founded by a Sunni newspaper publisher, Muhammad Omar Abbasi, to act as a social welfare body as well as to coordinate various Islamic affairs. Its Punjabi-dominated funders, however, became unpopular among various 'Swahili' Muslims due to their reluctance to share institutional wealth for the wider provision of health and education services."

 

Bruce Stanley gave a presentation entitled Amman: a Conflict City, exploring the impact of conflict on cities in the Middle East.

"The second organisation, Ahmadiyya, erected a building in Dar es Salaam in the 1940s close to the Anjuman Islamiyya. While the Ahmadiyya had some successes in Dar es Salaam, theological opposition among most Muslims to Ahmadiyya beliefs constrained its own pan-racial Islamic activism."

Amman: A Conflict City
The afternoon's second speaker, Bruce Stanley, gave a presentation entitled Amman: a Conflict City, exploring the impact of conflict on cities in the Middle East, focusing particularly on Amman, Jordan. Stanley's presentation provided an overview of research conducted in Amman, funded by the Konrad Adenauer foundation, which looks at conflict resolution among NGO leaders.

Stanley explained that he approaches cities in conflict from the point of view that urbanisation and conflict cannot be separated and there are usually multiple sources of conflict in an urban environment. Explaining the concept of 'conflict urbanism' in Amman, Stanley said that although one can delineate a definite physical transformation of the city, it has not changed as much as one would expect. The notion that cities transform during conflict, Stanley explained, is a complex one.

 

Discussing Cities is held once per term and involves scholars and students from a range of different institutions and backgrounds.

An important fact, Stanley argued, is that conflict does not simply end; hence the term 'post-conflict reconstruction' usually refers to reconstruction where conflict is still ongoing. Other issues related to urban conflict today are migration, planning processes, and most importantly, whose rights and whose voices are heard in a city.

Stanley described the possibility of 'city logic' rather than a 'state logic' in defining and resolving conflict. In particular, the voices of minorities or excluded sectors of society as well as the provision of their basic needs should become key issues when dealing with cities in conflict.

Referring to Jennifer Robinson's book, Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development, Stanley introduced the idea that modern urbanism looks at cities from a Western perspective, where as they should look at cities as 'ordinary' and unique in their own environment. Relating this to conflict, Stanley noted that this could become a catalyst for bringing cities back into conflict resolution.

People who live in contemporary Amman generally see it as a stable environment. They are amazed at the way that the city has negotiated its way through different periods of conflict.

Speaking of the future of Amman, Stanley said that a major issue is that of Iraqi immigrants, made especially significant due to the fact that a large proportion of Iraqi politicians and businesses now operate out of Amman. The question of Iraq is one of concern in Amman, as many believe it could become a future source of conflict in the future as the population of Iraqis in Jordan increases.

Stanley noted that Amman sees itself as a conflict resolution city, as well as a major metropolis which attracts high levels of investment. Citing a number of problems, Stanley mentioned access to employment and a lack of consultation over large scale projects.

In conclusion, Stanley raised the question - why has Amman been able to negotiate successfully the ups and downs of Middle East politics in the 20th century and furthermore, how can the Middle East as a whole learn from the Amman example.

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