Spatiotemporal patterns in the riots in Belfast and Jerusalem during the era of the British Empire
Communal violence was a frequent occurrence in many of the territories of the British Empire, especially in urban contexts. Essentially, these riots were a consequence of British imperial policies and perceptions of religious identities with their presumed localisation in urban space and association with (colonial) temporalities. The collective violence became the subject of several royal commissions of inquiry. Taking Belfast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and Jerusalem during the Mandate era as two cases in point, this chapter studies the riots in both cities from a spatiotemporal perspective. Working with commission reports, archival sources and newspaper articles, the author argues that the transformation of the spatiotemporal configuration of both cities was a main precondition for the riots. Based on Lefebvre’s idea of rhythmanalysis, the author focuses on the practices of urban violence and analyses how they were shaped by the (re-)configurations and the rhythms of the city. The author especially highlights how violence was synchronised with the annual urban calendar as well as daily and weekly religious and everyday rhythms and in which ways it disrupted them. Both cities underwent significant transformation processes, which permanently altered both the physical spaces as well as their symbolic meaning, and during which a new calendar emerged that included religious holidays and political commemorations with the purpose of fostering nationalist aspirations. The author argues that during the successive riots, spatiotemporal patterns of violence evolved in both cities, introducing an urban pulse to which the historical actors perform their violent actions up until the present day.
This edited volume discusses the topic of urban violence from a new spatiotemporal perspective. It is built on the idea that spatial and temporal theoretical perspectives must be combined to truly understand the particular urban quality of violence in cities. By looking at the different ways in which the spatial and temporal configurations of cities produce and shape violence, it offers important insights into the dynamics of urban violence and how it affects everyday urban spatial practices and rhythms. In this book, violence itself is characterised as a spatiotemporal practice with destructive, transformative and generative potential. Some chapters focus on how violence reconfigures spatialities and temporalities in cities in the long term, changing the physical and social space as well the rhythms of a city. Others concentrate on memories and imaginations of violence that are imbued in the city-space, often in several temporal layers, and can lead to new violence by politicised practices of commemoration. The novel spatiotemporal perspective is applied by authors from different academic disciplines in nine case studies based on original material generated by ethnographic field research and the study of archival sources. The chapters cover cities in different world regions and historical phases, also offering translocal and transregional perspectives. With this approach, the book challenges assumed binaries of cities in the global north and south and contests the alleged difference between violence in the past and in the present.
Cities have been more than simply ‘places’ of conflict. The intrinsic connection between space, time and violence in cities is the main theme of this volume. This introduction develops the notion of space-time, which, we argue, helps us analyse violence in ways that make prominent the intertwinement of spatial and temporal aspects in the urban context. (Re-)shaping or even fundamentally transforming space, violence can produce urban segregations or create frontiers, but it can also trigger accelerations of movement and simultaneously slow down daily rhythms of life, causing immobility or containment. The spatial configuration of a city and its rhythms also produce and shape violence in distinct ways. A spatiotemporal perspective makes visible the translocal networks and global dynamics that may link urban violence to a faraway ‘elsewhere’, and the temporal connections that foreground both the (disrupted) rhythms of everyday practices, and the longer-term processes violence is embedded in (i.e. in memories of violence). Discussing and revising literatures from different academic disciplines on space, time, violence and the city, the introduction argues for a processual understanding of the urban, rather than seeing ‘the city’ simply as the backdrop to or environment of violent practices or an imaginary of contemporary ‘violent cities’.