Roberto Mazza
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From riots to massacres
How space and time changed urban violence in Jerusalem, 1920–29
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In late Ottoman Jerusalem, violence was common, but milder than in other areas of the Ottoman Empire. More importantly, it was not yet the expression of organised forces. The Ottoman order based on the Millet system produced a society defined by religious identity, however space was not segregated, rather it was shared. In 1917, the arrival of the British started and facilitated a number of transformation processes, including sectarianisation and segregation of the urban environment, changes of space, time and forms of urban violence. While the British Mandate was taking form, they altered the local situation in many ways, especially through their support of Zionism and immigration of European Jews to Palestine. Despite a limited number of options, Palestinians reacted in different ways to what they perceived as an illegitimate decision from an external power. During the Muslim Nabi Musa celebrations, Arab nationalists and Zionists confronted each other in the first example of organised national struggle in 1920. The outbreak of violence in Jerusalem in 1929 shows that space became a defining element and time functioned as a glue, linking various locations. Starting with the object of the dispute – the Western Wall – it marked a clear shift from early examples of urban violence, as space itself became a disputed object and a target. Neighbourhoods were mobilised and incidents followed the movement of people from one locality to another. The perception of time, its regulation through public clocks and the systematic spread of news became an essential part for the development of violence.

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The spatiality and temporality of urban violence

Histories, rhythms and ruptures

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