....it was kind of a polemical way to say that Ramallah is centralizing everything. It's a city that's in a bubble without any relation or representation of what is going on in Palestine. But of course this is only one side, it has to be said that there are also a lot of interesting things that are going on at the same time. So the main idea could be really to develop a project that starts to problematize this role of Ramallah. Also, we say 'Ramallah' but maybe it could also be expanded to trying to understand the role of Palestinian cities or the development historically of urban Palestinian cities in '48 and so on.
To question the production of space inside Palestine. And how the official actors inside Palestine, from the Palestinian perspective, see this process, how is works and its problems, especially when developing a city like Ramallah – what are the implications of building a city such as Ramallah? What is its relation with other cities? What is the relation with the struggle in general?
...it's also important to discuss the meaning of building a city under occupation, in terms of, what is really a city? The city is made up of homes and public spaces, and even Ramallah with all that it represents it still has no clear style of public space. And normally the public space is the sphere where group to discuss the city, to discuss their society, different political debates, and it is always related to the notion of the state. So for us planners, architects, lawyers, whoever we are here, I feel it's important for us to first understand the notion of the city under occupation, the notion of public space , I feel this is important especially because we are not dealing with a dormitory city, it's an open city in this sense. It's also important to discuss the meaning of public space within a colonial context. What is the meaning of giving the colonized the ability to do their own city. To what extend does the colonial power give you the possibility to develop, because the city alone is a form of independence from the colonial point of view. So, to what extend does the colonial context really give you the ability to create your own city. This is very important. Ramallah could have been able to create a new form of connection between people. But Ramallah is saying 'we don’t care about anything', 'we need to have normal lives', the more we forget what's happening around, the more we have this. This is the new trend. Public is the sphere where people use the city for collective action.
I don't think we are now in a post-colonial situation, we are in a globalized world. When I open my email everyday I have 20 lists of discussion between people about what's happening what's not. The public space has changed from the physical to an internet space. So the use of the public space is there but in a different shape. So the discussion between people, the manasheer (pamphlets), happens daily between people on the internet. You know whatever is happening in the city, the exhibitions, not only advertisement but also discussions. The whole shape has become globalised. So you can see a city under occupation – the occupation itself has changed, you can have schools, universities, cafes, you can have your own economy – but the whole structure of it changed. So the notion of building a city or a public space cannot be compared to other colonial experiences such as Algiers and France. The relation between the oppressed and the oppressor has changed and is effected by globalization. People are shocked to see how we are living, the many satellites we have, we all watch Al Jazeera and know what's happening. So now the occupation is also virtual.
I think that to describe the internet as a public space is problematic because it is a very individual form of public space that bears no challenge to the new mode of occupation. It is a mere adaptation. It's ultimately very passive, it's not inclusive and it doesn't bare a call to action. It's also not creating participation. How often do you reply to these lists? At best you can read them all but how often do you participate in the discussions?
I don't know if the problem is whether we have or don't have public space. The space is just there. The problem is, what is the project? On which project to you galvanize support and use those public spaces. I think that what we are definitely lacking is that, the project. I don't think that in the end public space will become a problem, everything can become public space.
(extracts from conversation N. 1/Oct. 2008)