City and Soul in Divided Societies: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

City and Soul in Divided Societies

1st Edition

By Scott A. Bollens


288 pages | 50 B/W Illus.

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In this unique book Scott A. Bollens combines personal narrative with academic analysis in telling the story of inflammatory nationalistic and ethnic conflict in nine cities – Jerusalem, Beirut, Belfast, Johannesburg, Nicosia, Sarajevo, Mostar, Bilbao, and Barcelona. Reporting on seventeen years of research and over 240 interviews with political leaders, planners, architects, community representatives, and academics, he blends personal reflections, reportage from a wealth of original interviews, and the presentation of hard data in a multidimensional and interdisciplinary exploration of these urban environments of damage, trauma, healing, and repair.

City and Soul in Divided Societies reveals what it is like living and working in these cities, going inside the head of the researcher. This approach extends the reader’s understanding of these places and connects more intimately with the lived urban experience. Bollens observes that a city disabled by nationalistic strife looks like a callous landscape of securitized space, divisions and wounds, frozen in time and in place. Yet, the soul in these cities perseveres.

Written for general readers and academic specialists alike, City and Soul in Divided Societies integrates facts, opinions, photographs, and observations in original ways in order to illuminate the substantial challenges of living in, and governing, polarized and unsettled cities.


"City and Soul in Divided Societies offers a telling perspective about how people divided by race, religion, ethnicity, class, and history manage to coexist and in some circumstances even to thrive. Bollens achieves this through a deft combination of carefully crafted and thoughtful analysis, insight, and guidance, interspersed liberally with the words of residents and champions of these cities and presented with images, figures, and set-aside boxes of imaginative prose." – Journal of the American Planning Association

"One of the strengths of this book is its ability to capture nuanced contextual factors within brief capsules, mixing discussion of local views, major events, governmental structures, and urban policies. This provides the reader with a swift but flavored overview of the past of each city under investigation… Other strengths of the book are its reader-friendly format and the personal voice of the author. For those who haven’t

had the opportunity to read Bollens’s earlier work, City and Soul in Divided Societies will give a thought-provoking snapshot of the main storyline he has developed, which concerns features that distinguish polarized cities." - Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review

"Overall, City and Soul is a welcome corrective to some of the more preva-lent accounts devoid of normative or reflexive reasoning, as the personal insights sharply convey a real sense of struggle (at a more emotional level) that is so often encountered while doing research in conflict areas… The engaging style of the author makes the book a very pleasant read, and will surely capture a wide audience of both specialists and non-specialists alike."— Giulia Carabelli, Queens University Belfast

Table of Contents

Part A: Polarized Cities 1. Introduction 2. Scholarship with an ‘I’ 3. Soul in the City: Epic Cultures and Urban Fault-lines Part B: Nine Cities, Nine Sorrows 4. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina ‘Urbicide’ and Dayton 5. Johannesburg, South Africa: ‘Swimming Olympic Style after Years of Drowning’ 6. Belfast, Northern Ireland: A ‘Peace’ Not Envisioned 7. Nicosia, Cyprus:urmounting Walls, not Politics 8. Basque Country, Spain: Moving from Etxea to Euskal Hiria 9. Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina: The City as War Spoils 10. Barcelona, Spain: An Inclusive Nationalism? 11. Jerusalem, Israel and West Bank: Narrowing the Grounds for Peace 12. Beirut, Lebanon: City in an Indeterminate State, Part I 13. Beirut, Lebanon:City in an Indeterminate State, Part II Part C: Synthesis 14. Comparing Across Conflicts 15. Cities and National Peace

About the Author

Scott A. Bollens is Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California, Irvine, where he holds the Warmington Chair in Peace and International Coooperation. He is author of Cities, Nationalism, and Democratization (2007), On Narrow Ground (2000), and Urban Peace-Building in Divided Societies (1999).

About the Series

Planning, History and Environment Series

This series offers a unique window on the creation of the modern environment. Designed for an international readership, the emphasis is on:

  • urban and regional planning
  • recent as well as longer-term history
  • what the past can tell us about the present
  • local as well as global and comparative topics

Within this framework the books address three themes:

  • regional, continental and comparative studies
  • planning histories of key cities
  • changing planning ideologies and policies


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography