Ottonostalgias and Urban Apartheid | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2045-5895
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5909



A widespread nostalgia for the Ottoman period is visible in numerous urban regeneration projects proliferating across the Middle East. This article explores how Ottoman heritage in Palestine and Istanbul both propels oppressive sociospatial schemes and forms the basis for social movements formed to contest these schemes. In Istanbul, the banner of urban regeneration has been used to expropriate and displace local populations in a context marked by rapidly escalating real estate values and huge profits realized by developers allied with an entrepreneurial political class. The politically-driven heritagization occurring in Istanbul uncannily resembles the efforts aggressively pushed forward by an alliance between Israeli settlers and the government in Israel/Palestine – a form of class cleansing as opposed to a predominantly ethnic one targeting Palestinians. In response, Palestinian heritage organizations are endeavouring to rehabilitate old cities in towns and villages of the West Bank, in an attempt to improve the economic and social livelihoods of Palestinians and help them resist colonization.


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