Divided Cities: Challenges to Peacebuilding and Development

Project: Research


Funded by: SIDA/VR

Cities are central and contested spaces in many identity-based conflicts. Sarajevo, Nairobi and Jerusalem are all poignant symbols of violent conflict in our time.

This project is concerned with the problematique of building sustainable peace in ethno-nationally contested cities. We will explore how peace can be built in contested urban environments. The combination of in-depth case studies and cross-case comparisons based on extensive fieldwork in Nairobi, Sarajevo and Jerusalem will contribute to the development of a theoretical framework for peacebuilding in contested cities, break new empirical ground and generate research-based policy recommendations on challenges and possibilities of urban peacebuilding.

We use the city as prism for understanding the inter- play of global and local, in the reconstruction, reconciliation and reintegration of different post-war urban contexts.

To capture this problematique we:

1) explore how political violence reshapes and polarizes previously mixed cities, in order to conceptualize divides in city spaces

2) investigate in what ways and under what circumstances urban structures, processes and agencies function as obstacles to transitions from war to peace

3) adapt peacebuilding to the urban level and map strategies to overcome divides such as urban planning, urban governance and urban development, to distinguish functional processes from dysfunctional ones,

4) identify international and local peacebuilding actors and analyze their interplay to explore ‘zones of engagement’ as well as points of ‘friction’.
Effective start/end date2013/01/012015/12/31