Urbicide in Palestine: Spaces of Oppression and Resilience by Nurhan Abujidi

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These discourses of cultural cleansing and cultural genocide suffer from their focus upon the symbolic cultural heritage, which solely refers to one layer of urban destruction, the deliberate destruction of cultural artefacts. In other words, it focuses only upon the buildings whose loss is judged to be a cultural loss. However, the urban environment normally experiences more widespread destruction than these symbolic buildings. From the Bosnian history of cultural destruction it is evident that hundreds of other types of buildings were subject to destruction–for example, houses in Mostar Old Town and in many of the villages in Bosnia. The same can be noted in the Palestinian history of urban destruction–for example, Nablus old town (more details on Nablus are analyzed in Chapter 6). Indeed, urban destruction encompasses buildings that have no distinctive cultural value, or are of distinct cultural provenance. Thus the interpretation of urban destruction as an attack o cultural heritage provides only a partial (though striking) account of the destruction of the urban environment in Bosnia among other cases; it does not account for the scare of destruction or targeting of buildings that are not recognizable as such symbols of culture. Thus, cultural cleansing and cultural genocide are only partially reflecting the process of urban destruction; they reflect the destruction of cultural artefacts, but this destruction does not take place in a pure form or apart from the destruction of other types of urban environment.

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