Preserving ‘the Enemy’s’ architecture: preservation and gentrification in a formerly Palestinian Jerusalem neighbourhood

Hila Zaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article relates to the preservation of Palestinian buildings in Jerusalem and raises the question why state-sanctioned institutions act to preserve Palestinian architecture built pre-1948, bearing in mind the context of a difficult past and an on-going conflict? The article addresses the manner in which Jerusalem’s authorised heritage discourse focuses only on preserving Palestinian buildings’ tangible aspects (architectural styles), and not on intangible aspects such as the narrative of their builders. The main argument is that while preservation is presented as a civilised practice, it is driven by the commodification of the buildings and sites and their valued ‘authenticity’. The common practice is to ‘preserve’ these buildings by developing them to create more housing units. This practice inevitably leads to gentrification. Moreover, even when intangible aspects of heritage are pushed aside, preserving these buildings comes with the ‘risk’ of them being used as memory sites for subaltern groups. The article focuses on one formerly Palestinian West Jerusalem neighbourhood, Baka, where gentrification was triggered by historic Palestinian homes and where the neighbourhood’s development continues to be linked with historic preservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-976
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - 26 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gentrification
  • Israel
  • Jerusalem
  • Palestinian architecture
  • conflict
  • historic preservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Museology


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