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Call for Papers: Scar-Cities: Middle East Urbanisms between Violent Environments and Disrupted Governance

CFP: Scar-Cities: Middle East Urbanisms between Violent Environments and Disrupted Governance

At the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Annual Conference in London, 29 August  to 1 September 2017. 

Panel affiliated to the Urban Geography Research Group
Session's convener: Nathan Marom (Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel)

Middle East cities–and the wider regions and territories in which they are embedded–present a distinct constellation of socio-environmental disparities and socio-political inequalities. These feed into wider processes of political instability, governance "failures," practices of insurgency, recurrent revolts and militarized conflicts. In other words, Middle East urbanisms seem to manifest unique relations and tensions between material-environmental scarcities (of food, water, energy etc.) and an ‘abundance’ of conflict, which ranges in scale from the micro-political to the geo-political: tensions over the distribution and use of water in thirsty neighborhoods, food shortages and ‘bread riots’ erupting in markets and streets, energy disruptions which activate urban unrest, militarized campaigns that ‘switch off’ essential life-supporting infrastructures, up to wars over oil and other natural resources. Cities throughout the region–Aleppo, Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Benghazi, Cairo, Damascus, Diyarbakir, Gaza, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Kirkuk, Mosul, Ramallah, Raqqa, Sana’a and Tunis–all bear scars, which speak of material shortages, disrupted governance and violent environments. 

This session hopes to draw two threads–environments and governance–into a productive discussion of the urban Middle East. It aims to interrogate contemporary Middle East urbanisms through several concurrent and related phenomena: the scarcity of environmental resources and susceptibility of urban infrastructures, the deficit and disruption of civic governance, and the proliferation of political turbulence manifested in urban space. It invites papers that interrogate the distinct constellation of Middle Eastern ‘scar cities’ through an urban political ecology perspective, informed by ethnographic, sociological or historical research and engaged with diverse geographical imaginations. It welcomes papers that offer in-depth case studies of cities throughout the Middle East, or comparisons within (and beyond) the region. More generally, the session aims to place Middle East cities – positioned geographically and historically between Europe, Africa and Asia – firmly within current debates on global urbanism, bridging global South and global North perspectives.

Instructions for Authors

Please send abstracts to by 13 February 2017.

If you prefer, email your comments to




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