A platform for critical ideas on the past, present, and future of cities and urbanism in the Arab region.
Urbanisation is one of the central forces shaping social life in the Arab region. As cities grow, disappear, and organise new realities, critical debate on urban policies, histories and everyday life is increasingly crucial. More than giving answers, our primary concern is to raise questions regarding how urban realities are made, remade, and unmade. Who are the powerful agents in these processes and how is their power contested? Can we speak of an ‘Arab’ urbanism?
The magazine is a project that has been a year in the making. It developed out of our desire to begin a conversation on how and why our cities are designed, built, and destroyed. We envision it as a platform for critical engagement with voices based across the region in diverse spaces that subvert, create and renew perceptions of urban history, planning, architecture, geography and resistance.
As academia and urban practices grow further apart, we thought of ways to bring together researchers, practitioners and residents to critically debate changes happening in our cities. As an open access platform, the magazine opens a space for the expression of new and critical ideas. These ideas guide our understanding of the past and present of our urban sphere, and draw imaginaries for its future. Having the space to speak, construct and contest is crucial to develop new pathways to understand urban realities as they are negotiated on a daily basis.
In these early days, our main objective has been to build a collective that crosscuts discipline, context, and practice. Having received over 80 contributions to our call for submissions, ranging from short interventions and academic research to visual statements and short films; the need for dialogue is clear and visible. The result is the magazine’s first issue, a collaboration between authors and editors enriched by their diversity of languages, geographical locations and disciplines. These first contributions are the experimental ground for an open source of knowledge production in the region.
As Arab Urbanism continues to grow with its contributors and members, we envision a way forward that amplifies the voice of underrepresented urban communities in the region (including non-Arab groups and migrant communities), cultivates cross regional conversations on urbanisation, and highlights critical perspectives on how we understand, study and live in our cities.