University hosts annual conference on urban transformations in Palestine

Birzeit University hosted the Institute of Palestine Studies’ annual conference themed “The Palestinian City: Issues of Urban Transformation”, organized in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts from November 1–3, 2019.

Gathering prominent academics, historians, architects, and experts in social sciences and geography, the conference aimed to cover most of the many issues related to urban transformation in Palestine. The presented research touched on Palestinian cities’ significance in the past and present and explored their role as incubators of culture and as controllers of social, political, and economic life.

During the three-day conference, the speakers discussed the problems that have been caused by the rapid urbanization that has taken place in Palestine since the twentieth century, focusing especially on wise planning and on the relationship between cities and rural areas. They debated also ways to deal with the far-reaching, ongoing measures implemented by Israeli occupation authorities that obstruct urban development.

During the first day, the conference discussed the impact of urban modernization on Arab cities and highlighted the issues that affected Palestinian cities between the Nakba and the Naska (1948–1967). The second day reviewed the social history of the Palestinian city, showcasing aspects of the social history of Haifa, Bir al-Sabia’ (aka Beersheba), Jerusalem, and Ramallah and Al-Bireh. On the last day, the conference tackled issues related to efforts to preserve Palestinian history and identity inside towns and cities and discussed the role of internal migration and rural flight in developing the urban scene.