Everyday Life: Spatial Oppression and Resilience under the Israeli Occupation. The Case of the Old Town of Nablus, Palestine
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Everyday Life: Spatial Oppression and Resilience under the Israeli Occupation. The case of the old town of Nablus, Palestine This research is an ethnographic-phenomenological interpretation of the inhabitants' traumatic experience of the 2002 Israeli invasion (<italic>Edjteyah</italic>) and the "walking through walls" military strategy that consisted of blowing up the walls, floors, and ceilings of adjacent homes in the old town of Nablus. <italic>yEdjteyah</italic>, linguistically and technically, represents a forcible action of power domination and repression over both the landscape and people within it; figuratively, it is like a man-made tsunami, one that is sudden yet anticipated on a subliminal level. Focusing on those who lived that experience in the old town of Nablus, my research reveals and discusses questions about (1) how the inhabitants' everyday experiences of living in fear and uncertainty empower their overall coping tactics under the ongoing Israeli occupation; (2) how the repairs and demolitions to the incurred damage affect the inhabitants' spatial experience; and (3) the ways in which inhabitants negotiate the processes of repair and homecoming with the local involved institutions that lead to understanding cultural and spatial agency and reaffirmation of resilience, identity and place attachment. Paulo Freire's emergent themes are the primary theoretical and methodological approach, combined with Henri Lefebvre and Michele de Certeau's concepts of everyday life to precisely divulge the inhabitants' worldviews on their lived experiences. Face to face interviews and participant observations were conducted between the months of June and September in 2009, 2010 and 2011 with both inhabitants and institutional representatives. After preliminary analysis of the 40 interviewed inhabitants, ten inhabitants and their households, whose expressive narratives represent most of the common emergent themes about spatial, temporal and behavioral ways of operating and of coping tactics within a traumatic environment, were selected for presentation and in-depth analysis later in this dissertation. In addition, 17 institutional representatives engaged in spatial agency were interviewed in an effort to understand the inhabitants' negotiation process of their damage repair and homecoming. The tension between uncertainty and the desire to live normally reveals basic foundational themes that reflect the Palestinian inhabitants' real life-world. Basic emergent themes present commonalities on the shared lived experience that are clustered into temporal dimensions, spatial opportunities and constraints, social and cultural capital, and keeping safe. These four clusters thus form the foundation for higher-level themes essential to understanding the constrained context of the everyday life in Nablus and its historical connectedness. That is to say, powerless people under the occupation may not be able to expect an achievable temporal or spatial control and agency often perceived as manifestations of physical expressions of independence and power, but they manage to practice everyday activities with which they maintain their exercise of politics, sense of identity, resilience and control on the micro level. This ethnographic-phenomenological research of real life scenarios expands paradigms of planning to include the everyday spatial and behavioral tactics used by powerless people to empower their local agency and resilience. Considering the emergent themes of everyday life, I advocate for revisiting local planning practices mainly under a politically constrained context, to allow for a more bottom-up approach that reflects needs based on the inhabitants' lived experience.
- Urban planning