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WAR, CONFLICT AND THE CITY

Publication appeared on:

zo 1 oktober 2023

AMJournal Edition #1: War, Conflict and the City

The first edition of the diamond open acces, peer reviewed online journal focuses on the many influences that war and conflict have on our cities – its cultures, people, products, policies, and processes. War, conflict, and cities are intertwined, as cities are both prime targets for violence and platforms of resistance. Throughout the ages, people have fled war and conflict both to and from cities worldwide; making their homes anew and their voices heard. Because of this complexity, multiple perspectives and multiple methodological approaches are needed to gain insight into the mechanics of war and conflict, and their relation to cities.

Download the complete journal edition #1 here, or individual contributions to the edition below.

Download Journal Edition #1

Table of Contents

The Short Essays
Between Strange and Familiar — Hatem Hegab
Dublin 1904: Conflict in 'The Dead' — Imogen Mills
Post-conflict Policing in Berlin — Mark Fenemore
The 1999-2004 Ambon Wars — Tamara Soukotta

The Polyphonic Object
Judith van Gent, Jan Lucassen, Anita Böcker

The Long Essays
Momentary Lapse in Memory — Senka Milutinović
Pastiche of Threats — Noa Roei and Gabriel Schwake
Migrant Mental Healthcare — Gian Hernandez
Everything but Restraint — Bram Groenteman
Let the Sword Rest, but not Rust — Tom van der Molen
How to Rebuild a City — David Duindam
When the House is on Fire — Frederick Whitling
A Site of Resistance — Dorine Maat
Architecture of Destruction and Healing — Arna Mačkić

The Polylogue
Jolle Demmers, Chris Keulemans, Fatima Warsame, Sahar Shirzad

Individual Contributions

Individual contributions can be downloaded separately below:

The Strange and Familiar: Urban Change in Berlin

An Essay by: Hatem Hegab

Discipline: Planning History

Abstract

Since the Cold War, the adage, that the German capital is “poor, but sexy”, has beckoned in a new age of consumerism. In the same breath, and in light of multifarious crises across the ‘Global South’, a sizeable population of émigrés continue arriving to Berlin. Throughout the past decade, one is starkly reminded that Berlin’s urban fabric is increasingly contingent on these crises ‘elsewhere’. For many émigrés, Berlin is a site of estrangement. Simultaneously, as Berlin is rapidly transforming into the ‘silicon valley of Europe’, urban change is making the city less habitable. In this light, how can we readdress urban change in the city? In this semi-personal essay, I argue that, when the city is treated as a “heterotopia”, there remains no monopoly on the claim to its past and future. As the city’s future is mapped out, we are able to engage with the different political meanings and experiences attached to the city.

Keywords

Urban Change, Heterotopia, Berlin, Migration, Memory

DOI [to be inserted]

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Futurity in the Colonial City: Signs of Conflict

An Essay by: Imogen Mills

Discipline: Literary Studies

Abstract

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the role of futurity and hope in memory studies. This paper contributes to this conversation by examining futurity in a city marked by colonial conflict in the context of “The Dead”, the final short story from Dubliners by James Joyce. Drawing on discursive analysis and negation theory, I argue that the postcolonial writer can rewrite the city, ripe for a new and unknown future. To support this argument, I analyse layers of the colonised urban space. Specifically, I look at the Wellington monument and the statue of Daniel O’Connell. Through this analysis, I demonstrate that futurity is an ambiguous concept capable of holding all possible iterations of the future after conflict. This paper contributes to ongoing debates about surpassing the current focus within memory studies on traumatic memories. By drawing on research on hope, as it is life-affirming and inherently future-oriented, by Ann Rigney, and David P. Rando. And it challenges conventional readings of conflict and trauma by extending hope to the dead. Thus it exhibits how death helps to conceptualise an unknown future.

Keywords

Dublin, Futurity, Hope, Colonialism, Negation

DOI [to be inserted]

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The Policing of Berlin as a Post-Conflict City

An Essay by: Mark Fenemore

Discipline: Policing History

Abstract

The paper explores the difficult transition from war to peace in the defeated capital of Hitler’s Third Reich. Not only did Soviet forces exact terrible revenge on the civilian population, but conditions of desperation and hunger led to a spike in black-market activity and crime. The Unconditional Surrender, ratified by Potsdam, set up a significant imbalance of power between the occupiers and the occupied. Amid conditions of continued hunger, in the sheets as well as on the streets, such a blatant asymmetry encouraged exploitation and immorality. As a wounded and post-conflict city, Berlin posed special problems for the police authorities. With many policemen having tainted themselves through participation in illegitimate oppression and war crimes, policing had to be begun again from scratch. Although the Allies had lofty ideals of how to reform policing (reflecting their national traditions, but also progressive ideas about the employment of women), their lack of unity, together with the scale of the practical difficulties the city faced, meant that such reforms became watered down and ineffectual. The former capital’s need to regenerate and heal was sacrificed to the needs of the cold war. Women and anti-Nazis were increasingly marginalized, while former Gestapo men found favour.

Keywords

Postwar, Policing, Occupation, Crime

DOI [to be inserted]
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The 1999-2004 Ambon Wars: Embodied Experiences, Stories and (Re)Memories

An Essay by: Tamara Soukotta

Discipline: Development Studies

Abstract

This essay addresses embodied experiences of the wars involving Christian and Muslim communities in Ambon that started on 19 January 1999 and lasted until 2004—wars that were made possible by the existing (religious) segregation put in place since (Dutch) colonial time, which in turn exacerbated that segregation and left marks on Ambon—both the city and its people.

Starting from embodied experiences of the 1999-2004 (religious) wars in Ambon, in this essay, I argue that wars are not mere events or concepts to discuss, debate, and draw policies from. Wars are experienced in/with the bodies of those who were unlucky enough to go through them. Wars are embodied experiences of people and city(ies). The trauma and haunting (re)memories of wars and their aftereffects remain with the people and the cities visited and touched by wars. And as we walk through a particular city that has experienced wars, chances are we might bump into these (re)memories.

Keywords

Ambon, War, Memories, Christians, Muslims

DOI [to be inserted]


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The Polyphonic Object: Registration of Belgian Refugees in the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, 1914

Short essays by: Jan Lucassen, Anita Böcker and Judith van Gent

This contribution features three short essays by three scholars, approaching an object from the Amsterda Museum from their different perspectives.

'War, Conflict and the City' object: The Registration of Belgian Refugees in the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, 1914' (Herman Lugt 1881-1950).

Essay 1 Title: Mass migration hundred years ago: Amsterdam October 1914

By Jan Lucassen (Historian)

Essay 2 Title: The art of dealing with mass influxes of (war) refugees

By Anita Böcker (Sociologist)

Essay 3 Title: [To be inserted]

Judith van Gent (Art Historian)

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Momentary Lapse in Memory

An Essay by: Senka Milutinović

Discipline: Art and Design

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of the archival practice on oral histories of conflict. Specifically, it asks to what capacity can the lived experience be devoured by the grinding machine of forced institutional remembrance, and how can it defy such a predicament? The inquiry to this question was studied through the oral history of the author’s friends, family and neighbors concerning the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. This military intervention was done in response to the oppressive regime of Slobodan Milošević and remains fresh in the Serbian collective memory. Utilizing qualitative generative interviews, a case study of the author’s parents’ approaches to archiving, and personal footage recorded by the Radio-Television of Serbia, the paper examines differences between institutional and personal archival practices. The analysis displays that institutional remembrance can claim the lived experience through collective memory, which is reinstated by commemorative practices and archiving. In contrast, oral histories of conflict result in a different type of narrative-building and remembering. They are characterized by mechanisms such as collective editing, transmission, and non-linearity,which resist standardization and instrumentalization. This paper advocates for reconsidering static preservation-oriented modes of institutional archiving, proposing instead, to embrace the unreliable and non-reproductible of oral history.

Keywords

Memory, Oral History, Trauma, Archiving, Standardization

DOI [to be inserted]

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Pastiche of Threats: A Spatial Analysis Military Urban Training Centres

An Essay by: Noa Roei and Gabriel Schwake

Discipline: Visual Culture

Abstract

This paper focuses on two case studies of urban military training centres, representing different combat scenarios, and generating different imaginary spatial manifestations. Using maps, drawings, photographs, and 3D models, we analyse how the architectural and urban characteristics of both cases inform the manner in which Arab built space is simultaneously conceived and perceived as what we develop in this paper as a pastiche of threats, violence, and domination. Approaching the issue from a spatial perspective, we address the materials used in each space; how spaces were planned in relation to combat legacies, and how their planners ignored non-combatant usage of public space in their creation of civilian-like military infrastructure. At the same time, we wish to address the never-ending “passion for the Real”, which cannot be satisfied by any simulacra. By doing so, we map out the way abstract imaginaries are manifested and materialized spatially, attending almost literally to the “architecture of vision” involved in contemporary practices of power.

Keywords

Nationalism, Militarism, Aesthetics and Politics

DOI [to be inserted]

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Migrant Mental Healthcare, Conflict, and Embodied Experiences

An Essay by: Gian Hernandez

This provocation draws on my experience as an ethnographic researcher conducting interviews structured by emotion and embodiment with a diverse group of migrants about the barriers they face accessing mental healthcare (Ayata et al.). In conversation with these diversely embodied migrants, their capacity to affect and be affected by power imbalances comes to the fore (Blackman). I reflect on these experiences and explore the nuances of what it means to have (partially) escaped conflict to pursue a future only to be confronted with the ever-present traces of colonial history in a world-city like Amsterdam (Quijano). The conversations gifted to me through these interviews form a backdrop for the complexities of meaning-making that sanctions the presence of newcomers. This essay illuminates the extent to which the thriving cultural sector of Amsterdam obscenely includes sojourners in often conflicting discourses around society, livelihood, and cultural production (De Genova).

Keywords

Mental Health, Conflict, Embodied Experiences

DOI [to be inserted]


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Everything but Restraint: Aldo van Eyck and Constant Nieuwenhuys’ Visions of Post-war Society in Light of their Lived Experience

An Essay by: Bram Groenteman

Discipline: Arts and Culture

Abstract

This essay investigates how Aldo van Eyck and Constant Nieuwenhuys’ respective visions of post-war society were influenced by their lived experiences. Rejecting the functionalism prevalent in society, both found a guiding principle for their post-war visions in the relation-based thinking found in Johan Huizinga’s 1938 book Homo Ludens. Seeking to reintroduce play into daily life to counter the societal rigidity prevalent prior to the Second World War, they developed visions of societal structures that facilitated and reflected new societal relations. Their respective wartime experiences influenced these visions. Van Eyck, who spent the war years in neutral Switzerland, developed a humane structuralist architecture while Constant, who lived under German occupation in Amsterdam, zeroed in on an all-encompassing utopian vision which surpassed Van Eyck’s, in everything but restraint. Through a comparative analysis, this essay will illustrate how Constant’s more extreme experiences pushed him to take a more radical stance than his spared counterpart.

Keywords

Architectural Urbanism, Post-war Europe, Play, New Babylon, Structuralism

DOI [to be inserted]

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"The Wise Let the Sword Rest, but not Rust": Celebrating an Armed Peace on a Civic Guard Portrait

An Essay by: Tom van der Molen

Abstract

Amsterdam civic guards are posing as armed keepers of peace and order on Govert Flinck’s Company of Captain Joan Huydecoper and Lieutenant Frans Oetgens van Waveren from 1648-50,. That peace and order was deeply rooted in self-interest and conceived by them as a prerequisite for the arts. This deliberate portrayal of the men as peacekeepers actively silences the fact that they also participated in trade wars and colonial activities and/or profited of them, either directly or indirectly. In depicting these men in this way Flinck addressed to their needs as well as his own. The painting proved a very important step in the course of his successful career. Flinck – and other artists from the 17th century – played their part in immortalizing the 17th century in Amsterdam as a peaceful and prosperous ‘golden age’. The stories of war and conflict meanwhile were at the same time effectively silenced by the same people that profited of them.

Keywords

War, peace, order, prosperity, painting

DOI [to be inserted]

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How to Rebuild a City: the Politics of Reconstruction in a Digital Age

An Essay by: David Duindam

Abstract

Images of destroyed cities haunt our past and present times and prompts the question how we can rebuild a city after it was destroyed by war and conflict. This paper addresses the role of heritage discourses in both the destruction and reconstruction of cities by comparing the historical cases of Warsaw and Amsterdam and the more recent digital reconstruction of Palmyra. I will first examine the different forms of destruction: the intended destruction of important heritage as part of the war effort; the total destruction of a city as part of an urbicide; and the unintended destruction after the conflict ended due to a lack of consensus. I then analyze and compare three case studies of reconstruction and how they are framed by different and competing understandings of heritage in relation to the underlying memory politics. The cases are the historical city center of Warsaw that was reconstructed as an ensemble and recognized asreconstruction as an UNESCO world heritage site; the Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam that was partially reconstructed and used the postwar destruction to represent the destruction of the war; and the case of digital reconstruction of Syrian heritage in Palmyra that has been exhibited mostly in western countries. By comparing digital reconstruction with more traditional forms of reconstruction, I aim to critically reflect on the opportunities, pitfalls and affordances of this new technology.

Keywords

Rebuilding, Heritage, Destruction, Reconstruction

DOI [to be inserted]

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“When the House is on Fire”: Cardinal Mercati, the Pius-Stiftung–Kehr Affair and the Case of Madam Ludwig

An Essay by: Frederick Whitling

Abstract

The contribution will be based mainly on archival material in collections in the Vatican City: The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, the Archivio Apostolico Vaticano and the Segreteria di Stato – Sezione per i Rapporti con gli Stati – Archivio Storico. During several months of research during a scholarship period in Rome in 2020–2021, I have transcribed a significant collection of source material, much of which has not yet been catalogued and has consequently hitherto been unavailable for research. The contribution may examine material heritage – specifically library collections – connected with the demise of significant foreign scholars in the scholarly community in Rome, e.g. Ernst Steinmann (Bibliotheca Hertziana) and Paul Fridolin Kehr (Deutsches Historisches Institut). It will also discuss aggressors and victims in relation to established institutions, moral and political neutrality,with for example Swedish and Swiss positions and examples, including war relief (e.g. the purchase of insulin for the city of Rome in1944). If there is a perceived need for a clearer connection with the Netherlands, I might also include a case study of Dutch-Swedish scholarly contacts and exchange in Rome during the Second World War.

Keywords

Memory, history of scholarship, cultural heritage, academic diplomacy

DOI [to be inserted]

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Title:

A Long Essay by: Dorine Maat

Abstract

This paper examines the Willet-Holthuysen House, a canal house museum in Amsterdam, in the context of World War II. Originally bequeathed to Amsterdam by its last owner, Louisa Willet-Holthuysen, in 1895, the house has a rich history of being home to various families and institutions. While some connections between the house and World War II have been previously established through oral sources, this essay introduces additional source material to shed further light on the house as a place of resistance. The research uncovers that the Willet-Holthuysen House served not only as a location within the Council of Resistance's network but also provided shelter for a person in hiding and accommodated a family actively involved in the resistance. This reveals that the house was more than just a place for art collection and opulence; it operated as a vital node in the resistance network, offering a hiding place and serving as a meeting spot for illegal resistance activities.

Keywords: World War II, Resistance, Amsterdam, The Willet-Holthuysen House

Discipline
: History 

DOI
[insert]

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The Man of Culture Became a General

An Essay By: Arna Mačkić

Discipline: Architecture

Abstract

On November 29, 2017 Slobodan Praljak, the architect of the destruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, had committed suicide. Libraries, bridges, museums, universities, mosques and squares were purposefully destroyed by him. For these crimes – against buildings, public spaces and landscapes – he was not tried. In one of Praljak's 'main acts', he ordered the destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar. The story of the Old Bridge is that of Mostar's multi-ethnicity. Many books, plays and films have been devoted to it. It was that very story that had to be destroyed. And that was precisely Praljak's expertise. Before becoming a general, Praljak was a creator and manager in the cultural field, like many of his fellow criminals. Slobodan Praljak’s actions show us that architecture can be used consciously and unconsciously to dislocate and destroy human relationships and the environment. I call this architectural disaster. Rebuilding is impossible if the disaster is reduced to an individual problem or responsibility, no lessons are learned from it, and the history of violence, exclusion and segregation keeps repeating itself. What are ways to reconnect and build these relationships? How can we work on recovery, so that victims get a perspective for the future?

Keywords

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Architecture, War Crimes

DOI [to be inserted]

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The Polylogue: A Roundtable on War, Conflict and the City

Round Table Discussants: Sahar Shirzad, Jolle Demmers, Chris Keulemans and Fatima Warsame. Moderated by: Imara Limon.

In this round table Sahar Shirad, Jolle Demmers, Chris Keulemans and Fatima Warsame discuss the effects of war and conflict on the city of Amsterdam, from their own perspectives and areas of expertise. 

Disciplines

Sahar Shirzad: Lawyer, Programmer, Writer, Speaker, Activist

Jolle Demmers: Associate Professor and Co-Founder of the Centre for Conflict Studies (Utrecht University)

Fatima Warsame: Freelance Journalist, Documentary Maker, Columnist

Chris Keulemans: Writer, Journalist, Moderator and Educator

Keywords: Consciousness, Empathy Fatigue, Biases, Flagging

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Colofon

Editors-in-Chief

Emma van Bijnen; Margriet Schavemaker

Managing Editor

Emma van Bijnen

Board of Editors

Emma van Bijnen; Margriet Schavemaker; Vanessa Najem-Vroon; Judith van Gent

External Board of Editors

Wouter van Gent; Irene Stengs; Deborah Cole; Gian- Louis Hernandez; Rowan Arundel; Steven Schouten; Gertjan Plets; Mia You; Esther Peeren; Noa Roei; Petra Brouwer; Sanjukta Sunderason; Pim Huijnen; Markus Balkenhol; Menno Reijven; Eliza Steinbock; Pepijn Brandon; Dimitris Serafis; Laura van Hasselt; Cristobal Bonelli; Virginie Mamadouh; Mia Lerm-Hayes; Christian Bertram; Rebecca Venema; Karwan Fatah-Black; Gregor Langfeld; Pablo Ampuero Ruiz; Sruti Bala; Emilio Zucchetti; Tim Verlaan; Julia Noordegraaf; Jan Rock; Julian Isenia; Sara Greco; Chiara de Cesari; Paul Knevel; Stephan Besser

Editorial Support

Rowan Stol; Julia Bakker; Elin Immerzeel; Imogen Mills

Design

Isabelle Vaverka 

Design Support

Patrick de Bruin

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