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Mona Harb

Cities Page Co-Editor

Why Space Matters in the Arab Uprisings (and Beyond)

[1945 map of Beirut]

Many non-scholarly and scholarly accounts on the societies, culture, and political economy of the Middle East post-“Arab Uprisings/Spring” still deal with cities and regions as mere repositories of social, cultural, political, and economic action—despite the spatial turn that has informed social sciences and humanities for more than three decades ago now. Indeed, they often overlook the shaping roles of the built and natural environments in the production of events ...

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A Cautionary Note for Habitat III: Decentralization Can Lead to Centralization

[The former Benghazi Municipality Hall, just after World War I, via Wikimedia Commons.]

“Effective decentralization” is listed as one the “main drivers of change to realize the transformative commitments” advocated by the first draft of the New Urban Agenda, the global urbanization vision that will be finalized at next month’s Habitat III conference. Multiple key references to decentralization also are included in the agenda’s final draft, released this month. By definition, decentralization assumes that transferring ...

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Exhibiting the War in Syria: Interview with Khaled Malas

[Khaled Malas is a Syrian architect who curated a series of events on the production of the landscape in Syria from before the First World War until today, entitled “excavating the sky” (12-14 August, 2014), at the 14th Venice International Architecture Biennale (7 June to 23 November 2014). In this interview, he talks with Mona Harb about his trajectory, the project’s threads, processes and goals, building wells as resistance, the support of colleagues and friends, next ...

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Public Spaces and Spatial Practices: Claims from Beirut

[Dalieh, Beirut. Image by author.]

Public space seems to be back in vogue these days, especially in relation to social protests taking place in city squares and along major streets, occupying and claiming spaces, often violently. Why do public spaces matter in cities? Is the absence or presence of public spaces in cities related to the rise of political and social movements? Can protests happen in cities that lack public spaces? Do public spaces lead to radical spatial politics? Are public spaces a means for ...

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Mona Harb


Mona Harb is Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Politics at the American University of Beirut. She is the co-author of Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi’ite South Beirut (with Lara Deeb, Princeton University Press, 2013), and author of Le Hezbollah à Beyrouth (1985-2005): de la banlieue à la ville, (Karthala-IFPO, 2010). She is currently investigating decentralization, local governments and urban development policies in the Arab world, as well as public space practices and urban politics in Beirut. Mona is a co-editor of Jadaliyya's Cities Page. Click here to visit her AUB profile.