September 1, 2008 - February 28, 2009
Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University
Amihai Mazar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Assaf Yasur-Landau, University of California, Santa Cruz
[RG #116] The Concept of Urban Change
September 1, 2008 - August 31, 2009
Ronnie Ellenblum (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Gideon Avni (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Concurrently, the disciplines of urban archaeology, urban geography and urban history were defined and developed, enabling an integrated study of historical sources, archaeological remains and the analysis of geographic, architectural and regional data.
However, the theoretical interpretation of ancient and historic cities is still conditioned by the chronological and sociological paradigms established as far back as the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus, for instance, the classification of cities into Eastern, i.e. "Oriental/Muslim/Middle or Far-Eastern" cities as opposed to "Occidental", i.e. European and North American ones is based, to a large extent, on the 19th century's neo-classical interpretation of historical economy. The accepted periodization of urban history into "Biblical", "Greek", "Roman", "Medieval" or "Early Modern" periods also reflects the ideologies, theologies and identities that created them. In many cases they are culturally or ethnically conditioned and cannot be justified outside of the specific culture that created them. Urban history is sufficiently complex and continuous to sustain different cultural definitions and different types of biased periodizations. As a result, the characterization of specifically defined types of cities such as "Muslim", "Medieval" or "greek" cities became almost self-evident, and the terms themselves, let alone the periodization that created them, was rarely contested.
In light of these conceptual paradigms, our research group will examine the processes of cultural, political, social and religious changes in both past and contemporary urban contexts. Adopting a multidisciplinary apprach and a wide chronological range, the members of the group will address an array of changes in urban structures, such as the formation of new centers of political might, structural changes of the public spaces, the creation of architectural icons, and the expansion and collapse of urban tissues, all in relation to major political, cultural and religious changes.
[RG #117] Contesting Liberal Citizenship: New Debates and Alternative Forms of Democracy and State Power in Latin America
March 1 - August 31, 2009
Mario Sznaider (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Luis Roniger (Wake Forest University)
Latin America has long been a laboratory for comparative research. With its 20 independent polities, it provides a shared ground for systematic analysis into the resilience or breakdown of formal democracy against the background of contesting models of citizenship.
While in the days of the Cold War these models were relatively clear-cut and impacted on the region, generating the contrasting projects of reform and revolution, in the last two decades Latin America has witnessed both a renewal of democracy and the diversification of democratic experiments. The international presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the election of an indigenous president in Bolivia and female presidents in Chile and Argentina, and recent policy decisions in Cuba, reflect the profound changes these countries have undergone, raising questions that are of far more than just regional interest.
Our research group brings together experts on various dimensions of citizenship in Latin America with a record in comparative research to reflect on the challenges affeting liberal democracies, as derived from the shift from corporatist to neo-liberal citizenship regimes; the increasing recognition of group rights and multiculturalism, evident with the potent rise of new indigenous movements; the emergence of participatory forms of anti-politics in situations of policy ineffectiveness and institutional collapse; the increasing use of plebiscitary democracy as a means of attaining political legitimacy; and the persistent challenge of mass citizen mobilization to existing forms of limited democracy.