On Narrow Ground

Urban Policy and Ethnic Conflict in Jerusalem and Belfast

By Scott A. Bollens

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Urban Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791444146, 436 pages, January 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444139, 436 pages, January 2000

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Table of contents

List of Figures

List of Tables




1. Urban Arenas of Ethnic Conflict


Divided and Polarized Cities
Urban Policy amidst Polarization


2. Cities as Catalysts


Governing Ideology and Urban Policy
Urban Policy and Ethnic Conflict


3. Investigating Urban Policy and Conflict


Jerusalem and Belfast
Research Methods



4. Israel's "Jerusalem"


Physcial and Demographic Setting
Political Control
Jewish-Arab Relations
Israeli Urban Policy Since 1967
Urban Goals
Structure of Israeli Planning
Operationalizing "Unification" and "Security"
"Yes, We Have Plans": The Mismatch between Israeli Planning and the Arab Community
Urban Service Delivery in a Contested City
–Urban Disparities and Political Strategy


5. Partisanship and the Palestinians


The Internal Dynamics of Partisanship
The Intersection of National and Municiple Imperatives
"This Was a Glorious Time": The Psychology of Israeli Planning
Palestinians and Israeli Urban Policy
Jerusalem's Palestinians
Tactics of Resistance


6. Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Peace


Thickening the Land-Use War
Metropolitan Jerusalem
–Goals and Aspirations of Metropolitan Planning
–Perceived Separability of the Functional from the Political
–Professional Techniques Aimed at Conflict Amelioration
–Planned Participants
–Planning Outputs amidst Political Contest
Jerusalem and the West Bank
Has Israel Achieved Its Goals Pertaining to Jerusalem?
The Fallacy of Partisan Planning
Buffer or Flashpoint?
The Future of Jerusalem: City and Sovereignty
Jerusalem Negotiated: Toward Mutual Coexistence
Reconceptualizing Urban Planning and Policy



7. Territoriality and Governance


Physical and Demographic Setting
Political Control
Economic Aspects
Sectarian Geographies and the "Peacelines"
Urban Engagement: Participants and Principles
Participants in Belfast Urban Policy
Community Activism amidst Strife
Greyness Where Color Matters
Town Planning and Ethnic Divisions
Public Housing and Segregation


8. Lost Opportunities, Unequal Outcomes


At the Sharp Edge
Government Tactics amidst Polarization
Marginalization of Planning and Strategy
Outcomes of Belfast Urban Policies
Neutral Means, Unequal Outcomes
Public Perceptions
Twenty Years of Deprivation


9. The Demands of Peace


Managing Differential Community Needs
Progressive Ethnic Management
Emerging Innovative Policy Approaches
–Acknowledging Ethnic Community Dynamics
–Bridging the Ethnic Divide
–Pursuing Fair Treatment by Government
Spatial Targeting
Strategic Investments for Community Viability
–Toward Coexistence
The Future of Belfast: City and Sectarianism



10. Urban Policy on Narrow Ground


Urban Policy amidst Polarization
Ideology, Urban Policy, and Ethnic Conflict
The Challenge of Urban Coexistence




1. Research Issues
2. Interviews Conducted



Uses case studies of Jerusalem and Belfast to explore how cities function in the midst of nationalistic conflict.


Examining how nationalistic ethnic conflict penetrates the building of cities, this book explores whether urban policymaking may independently influence the shape and magnitude of that conflict. Bollens utilizes an analytic lens to study the complex spatial and psychological qualities of unique urban arenas of nationalistic conflict and the obstacles faced by policymakers in improving intergroup relations. An integrative analytic approach combining the perspectives of political science, urban planning, geography, and social psychology is used to examine such urban issues as sovereignty, territoriality, group identity, and community organization. Focusing on Jerusalem and Belfast as examples of urban polarization, the book describes struggles over local policymaking that are intensified by disputes reflecting racial, nationalist, and/or religious fractures. Because these cities are important microcosms of regional and international conflict, they constitute an essential analytical scale for studying contemporary intrastate patterns and processes of ethnic conflict, violence, and their management.

Scott A. Bollens is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of California, Irvine. His previous books include Urban Peacebuilding in Divided Societies and (with David R. Godschalk, John S. Hekman, and Mike E. Miles) Land Supply Monitoring: A Guide for Improving Public and Private Urban Development Decisions.


"…an intellectually accessible and highly rewarding book. " — Political Science Quarterly

"…invaluable … " — CHOICE

"The issues raised are very crucial and currently in the news. This is a carefully prepared book on a timely topic, and the author displays good knowledge of diverse cultural situations. The two case studies are excellent and provide useful new information. " — Arthur Jay Klinghoffer, author of The International Dimension of Genocide in Rwanda