The Aleph—Jerusalem as critical learning

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

43 Scopus citations


This reflective paper offers the metaphor of ‘Aleph’—the ‘place of all places’—as well as the material city of Jerusalem, as points of departure for rethinking critical urban theories. In the paper, Jerusalem is ‘prized open’ as a site of learning—exposing the diversity of structural forces shaping this—and any other—city. The ‘Aleph approach’ draws attention to the relational and often changing nature in which structural forces interact as they produce urban space and society. This is highlighted by a ‘guided tour’ of Jerusalem that reveals an array of colonial, capitalist, religious, gendered and political forces of domination and their fluctuations through time and place. As such, the paper offers a ‘South-Eastern’ perspective, framed by ‘dynamic structuralism’ as foundation for new and engaged CUTs—critical urban theories. Such theories, it is suggested, should be informed by the multiple and uneven nature of oppression and resistance, and by new concepts and categories that emerge from the analysis, without treating the city as simply ‘chaotic’ or ‘self-organized’. Urban theory should move beyond the numbing theoretical dominance of ‘globalizing’ or ‘neoliberal’ capitalism, and deal seriously with simultaneous forces, movements, agents and politics that co-produce the nature of contemporary urbanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-494
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2016


  • Israel
  • Jerusalem
  • Palestine
  • dynamic structuralism
  • grey space
  • urban colonialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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