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The MIT Electronic Journal for Middle East Studies (MIT-EJMES) is seeking

papers addressing questions of post-war, post conflict reconstruction

in urban settings. The connection between cities and disaster is fast

becoming a prolific theme in development and planning discourse today.

Whether in a war context like Iraq or Palestine today, a post civil war

context like Lebanon or Bosnia or in the aftermath of terror attacks

like New York, Casablanca or Madrid the work of imagination, planning,

and intervention tries to confront the particular vulnerabilities that rip

through each of these cities. This process, generally labeled as one of

reconstruction, impacts and reshapes the relationship between urban forms,

market economies, collective memories, communal identities and political

programs and is in turn reshaped by them.

This special issue of MIT-EJMES aims to examine the theoretical and

practical discourse around post-war reconstruction and development

from a comparative perspective with a special focus on the Middle East

and Africa. Some of the questions that we would like to raise include

themes such as what idea of the city is implicit in reconstruction? Can

a post-war/post disaster situation be a source for a new interpretative

framework of city making and urban life? Do some cities have a

predilection for internal disasters? What is the role of memory and agency

in post-war/disaster reconstruction? Have changes in the scale of domestic

disasters such as the September 11th attacks in New York transformed

our understandings of the city and our concepts of reconstruction?

This issue will be focused on two specific themes:


The management of war and post war contexts is often geared towards the

continuation or resumption of normal life. Seldom do we ask, what does it

mean for social life to continue or resume and how do we identify these

resumptions?  What notions of temporality are involved in this before

and after? What does it mean to try to build the city "as it really was"

as happened in post WWII Warsaw and what kind of ideas are reflected

in these initiatives?  How does the intersection between the violence

of development and the violence of war reconstitute urban lives and

fabrics?  What cultures of planning undergrid post-disaster building?

Who are the stakeholders involved in this process and what are the ideas

informing various approaches to reconstruction programs as in Iraq and

Sudan today for example?


In a post war context, the city has to be thought anew - what is important

in this process is who thinks?  Who acts?  Who still speaks for whom?

However this thinking process also has to consider the intangible aspects

of living in a city, that is the ways in which the city is constituted

through the memories of its inhabitants and the role of those memories

in asserting diverse rights to the city both material and ephemeral.

In other words, when does reconstruction imply forgetfulness with respect

to the disaster that befell it or, alternatively, its absorption into

the imaginary of the city either physically or through fiction and film?

In the process what is the impact of large scale urban development

projects undertaken in the name of reconstruction on the reconfiguration

of cities and identities?


Please mail an abstract of 300-500 words by

MAY 30, 2005 to <mmyahya@mit.edu> or <pyla@uiuc.edu>

If selected, final papers will be due

OCTOBER 15, 2005.