DENA QADDUMI /// Against the Jerusalem Narrative: Spatial Politics of Jaffa-Tel Aviv


Conversation recorded live with Dena Qaddumi at Columbia University Studio-X in Amman, on February 15, 2015

This conversation is the second one recorded live at Studio-X Amman Lab (the first one being with Rahel Aima & Ahmad Makia). Recorded with Dena Qaddumi, it attempts to propose a struggle narrative for Palestine that is not focused on Jerusalem to which many of us contribute, thus participating to a debate mostly focused on the 1967 war. By examining the spatial politics of Jaffa-Tel Aviv, Dena attempts to show that similar “ethonocratic” logic of segregation are also at work in an environment admittedly less militarized. This logic also incorporates the same capitalist mechanisms of gentrification at work in other cities of the world. We begin by an historical approach to the “black” and “white” cities — using Sharon Rotbard’s terminology — before addressing its current situation, in particular from an architecture point of view, symptoms of the spatial violence at work within the city.

Dena Qaddumi has worked in architecture, planning and higher education in New York, London,‫ Palestine and Doha. As an architect and urbanist, her research interests are primarily concerned with how social movements engage with urban space and how this process creates new avenues for citizenship formation. She is co-founder of and Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka. Currently, she works at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies where she manages international relations and supports the establishment of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. She holds an MSc in Urban Development Planning from University College London and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.




– Dena Qaddumi, “Advancing the Struggle for Urban Justice to the Assertion of Substantive Citizenship: Challenging Ethnocracy in Tel Aviv-Jaffa,” DPU Working Paper No. 150, University College London, 2013. Available at:
– Dena Qaddumi and Ahmad Barclay, “Reframing Palestinian Return: A New Al-Shabaka Policy Circle,” for Al-Shabaka (2012)
– Owen Hatherley, “White City Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa – A Demolition Job,” on The Guardian (January 22, 2015)


– Oren Yiftachel, Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.
– Sharon Rotbard, White City, Black City Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, London: Pluto Press, 2015.
– Mark Levine, Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948, Berkley: University of California Press, 2005.
– Rhoda Ann Kanaaneh and Isis Nusair (eds), Displaced at Home: Ethnicity and Gender Among Palestinians in Israel, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010.
– Daniel Monterescu and Dan Rabinowitz (eds), Mixed towns, trapped communities: historical narratives, spatial dynamics, gender relations and cultural encounters in Palestinian-Israeli towns, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.


– Dena Qaddumi, “Advancing the Struggle for Urban Justice to the Assertion of Substantive Citizenship: Challenging Ethnocracy in Tel Aviv-Jaffa”

– Photograph of the Etzel Museum

Etzel Musio1

– Photograph of the Peres Center for Peace:

Amit GeronPeres Peace HouseFUKSAS014

– Photographs of the event:

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