We’re interested in how space and the production of space and it’s articulation with new power, different types of power – economic power, class power, political power – different kinds of power is producing a city or what appears to be a city but is underpinning a much larger political project that is sometimes opaque, sometimes not very clear.
What does the production of space in Ramallah mean today? What does the articulation of the city mean? How does this fit into the wider context? How does it fit into wider political projects? how does it fit into political economic, neoliberal projects?
Ramallah is the place of corruption, it's the place of opportunity, central policing, money, power, etc. PA being used as an authority. Institutions are difficult to uproot, building institutions is a way of controlling the Palestinians. I disagree with Nasser using the growth of the art scene as the problem. But economics is right, I know so many businessmen becoming millionaires through building the city, using the PA as a bait for making money.
It's not so guilt-free. This is not just an institutional dynamic; there are people who actively collaborate, there are people who tie their own interests to the institution [PA] at a political level, economic level, intellectual level, cultural level, all these levels consciously or unconsciously.
I think it's important to remember that the PA is not a socialist movement. It came with a capitalist movement, with its businessmen. It did not try to produce a socialist society. Even now, taxes are being reduced and everyone is happy, they do not understand or care about what taxes mean for health or education. Ramallah is the core of this capitalist notion of this emerging Palestinian state. But if you go to Nablus and Hebron you will also see capitalists. So there is not a new project, it’s the continuation of a capitalist project which is booming in Ramallah. And if businessmen can choose to come and invest they will choose the best for them, not the best for society.
Sure it was capitalist but the primary project was to build a state. Now, the building of a state necessarily needs different behavior, so its not a natural way of building a state. The way the PA behaves now is actually exploiting the building of a state for its own benefit.
But what's keeping the PA alive is what is being invested in it.
Yes, Ramallah is a project propped up by Israel, but it's important to understand the collateral effects which Ramallah could produce. What energy it is capable of producing.
(extracts from conversations N. 1/Oct. 2008 and N. 2/Dec. 2008)