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WAR, CONFLICT, AND THE CITY

Publicatie verschenen op:

zo 1 oktober 2023

Journal Edition #1

The first edition of the online peer reviewed Amsterdam Museum Journal (AMJournal) 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. As the city museum of Amsterdam, we want to respond to the (public) call on (cultural) institutions to take responsibility and academically explore the effects war and conflict have.

Download the complete Amsterdam Museum Journal, Edition #1: War, Conflict, and the City here.

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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:

Between Strange and Familiar: Urban Change in Berlin

A Short Essay by: Hatem Hegab

Abstract

The post Cold War 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, the site of their ‘estrangement’. Simultaneously, and as Berlin is rapidly transforming into the ‘silicon valley of Europe’, urban change is making the city less habitable. At this crossroads, one is starkly reminded that Berlin’s urban fabric is increasingly contingent on these crises elsewhere. Within this context, how can we readdress urban change in the city? In this semipersonal 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

Discipline: Urban History

DOI doi.org/10.61299/2o_b151

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Dublin 1904: Conflict in ‘The Dead’

A Short Essay by: Imogen Mills

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, I argue that the postcolonial writer can rewrite the city, ripe for a new and unknown future. To support this argument, I analyze layers of the colonized 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 lifeaffirming and inherently futureoriented, by Ann Rigney, and David P. Rando. In addition, it challenges conventional readings of conflict and trauma by extending hope to the dead. Thus, it exhibits how death helps to conceptualize an unknown future.

Keywords: Colonialism / Futurity / Joyce / Landmarks

Discipline: Comparative Literature

DOI doi.org/10.61299/3n_c141

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The Policing of Berlin as a Post-Conflict City

A Short Essay by: Mark Fenemore

Abstract

The essay 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 blackmarket 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 postconflict 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 antiNazis were increasingly marginalized, while former Gestapo men found favour.

Keywords: Postwar / Policing / Occupation / Crime

Discipline: Urban History

DOI doi.org/10.61299/4m_d131

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The 1999–2004 Ambon Wars: Embodied Experiences, Stories and (Re)Memories

A Short Essay by: Tamara Soukotta

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 19992004 (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: Wars / (Religious) Segregation / Embodied Experiences / Ambon

Discipline: Development Studies, and Conflict- and Peace Studies

DOI doi.org/10.61299/5l_e121

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The Polyphonic Object

The polyphonic object features a collection of analyses on Herman Lugt's 1914 painting 'Registration of Belgian Refugees in the Amsterdam Stock Exchange' by Jan Lucassen, Judith van Gent and Anita Böcker

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

The Registration of Belgian Refugees in the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, 1914' (Herman Lugt 1881-1950)

Essay 1
By Judith van Gent (Art Historian): Experienced researcher, curator, and author, with broad knowledge of (Dutch) art history. Dr. van Gent is currently the head of collections and research at Amsterdam Museum.

Essay 2
By Jan Lucassen (Historian): Fellow of the International Institute of Social History and a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science. Dr. Lucassen has published books such as ‘Migratie als DNA van Amsterdam 1550-2021’ (2021).

Essay 3
By Anita Böcker (Sociologist): Associate professor of Sociology of Law (Centre for Migration Law) at Radboud University. Prof. Dr. Böcker has published widely on the social/legal status of labour migrants, the regulation of migration and immigrant integration.

Keywords: Refugees / Belgium / Amsterdam / First World War

DOI doi.org/10.61299/6k_f111

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A Momentary Lapse in Memory: An Inquiry into (Re)Memory and Trauma Embodiment

A Long Essay by: Senka Milutinović

Abstract

This essay 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 RadioTelevision 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 narrativebuilding 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 nonreproductible aspects or the unreliable of oral history.

Keywords: Memory / Oral History / Trauma / Archiving

Discipline: Memory Studies and Archival Studies

DOI doi.org/10.61299/7j_g101

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Pastiche of Threats: A Spatial Analysis of Military Urban Training Centres

A Long Essay by: Noa Roei and Gabriel Schwake

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 noncombatant usage of public space in their creation of civilian-like military infrastructure. At the same time, we wish to address the neverending “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: Military Urban Training Centers / Pastiche / Israel / Spatial Imaginaries

Discipline: Spatial/Urban Planning and Cultural Analysis

DOI doi.org/10.61299/8i_h91

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Migrant Mental Healthcare, Conflict, and Embodied Experiences

A Long Essay by: Gian Hernandez

Abstract

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: Discourse / Material / Mental Health / Migration

Discipline: Intercultural Communication

DOI doi.org/10.61299/9h_i81

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

A Long Essay by: Bram Groenteman

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 / Postwar Europe / Play / New Babylon / Structuralism

Discipline: Architecture, Arts and Culture

DOI doi.org/10.61299/10g_j71

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

A Long 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

Discipline: Art History

DOI doi.org/10.61299/11f_k61

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Rebuilding Cities in a Digital age: The Destruction and Reconstruction of Heritage in Palmyra, Warsaw, and Amsterdam

A Long Essay by: David Duindam

Abstract

This paper investigates recent digital reconstruction efforts of Syrian heritage sites. These projects illustrate a Western saviorism emblematic of the colonial roots of archaeology and heritage practices. Rather than offering a solution, digital innovation further exacerbates the unequal distribution of knowledge and power. In order to denaturalize narratives of technological progress, this paper compares the digitally produced replica of Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph, first presented in London in 2016, to the postwar reconstructions of Warsaw and the Hollandsche Schouwburg, a Holocaust site in Amsterdam. By comparing digital and nondigital memory technologies, we can examine how Western conceptions of heritage are entangled with the very possibilities of destruction and reconstruction.

Keywords: Digital Reconstruction / Postwar Reconstruction / Memorials / Heritage

Discipline: Digital Memory Studies, Critical Heritage Studies, and Cultural Analysis

DOI doi.org/10.61299/12e_l51

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

A Long Essay by: Frederick Whitling

Abstract

This research based essay discusses interwoven cases connected to wartime destruction and disarray in relation to cultural heritage – libraries, manuscripts and research collections. It is based mainly on archival material in collections in the Vatican City, mostly sections of the correspondence of Cardinal Librarian Giovanni Mercati that are as yet uncatalogued and have hitherto not been available for research. The essay focuses on lost research material in the chaos and turmoil of war, such as the scholar Paul Kehr’s manuscript and library collections, as well as the so-called Pius Stiftung: research funds provided by the Holy See.

Keywords: Vatican Library / History of Scholarship / Wartime Cultural Heritage Protection / Academic Diplomacy

Discipline: History and Religion

DOI doi.org/10.61299/13d_m41

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The Willet-Holthuysen House as a Site of Resistance

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 / Amsterdam / Resistance / The Willet-Holthuysen House / Hiding

Discipline
: History 

DOI
doi.org/10.61299/14c_n31

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Architecture of Destruction and Healing

A Long Essay By: Arna Mačkić

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: Architecture / War and Conflict / Monuments / Human and Civil Rights

Discipline: Architecture

DOI doi.org/10.61299/15b_o21

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The Polylogue

A Roundtable on War, Conflict and the City, featuring Sahar Shirzad, Jolle Demmers, Chris Keulemans and Fatima Warsame.

In this round table four expert participants discuss the effects of war and conflict on the city of Amsterdam, from their own perspectives and areas of expertise. 

Sahar Shirzad
Experienced programmer, writer, public speaker, moderator, and award winning activist with an international law degree, specializing in human rights and failing refugee policies.

Jolle Demmers
Full Professor in ‘Conflict Studies’ at Utrecht University. She teaches and writes on theories of violent conflict, boundaries and violence, and technology and war.

Fatima Warsame:
Documentary maker, columnist, journalist, and freelance Editor of the Interior at RTL News. She focuses on promoting social awareness and change.

Chris Keulemans:
Journalist, writer, moderator, educator and curator, specialized in the impact of war on societies and individuals. He has co-founded Press Now (Free Press Unlimited) and is board member of ASKV (refugee support).

Moderated by: Imara Limon (Curator of ‘Refresh Amsterdam #2: War and Conflict’).

Keywords: Consciousness / Empathy Fatigue / Biases 

DOI doi.org/10.61299/16a_p11

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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 Vroon-Najem; 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

Project Support
Katharina Klockau

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