"Concrete Conflict"
Abstract: Many scholars and analysts have remarked upon the fact that the opening decades of the twenty-first century have witnessed the intensification of violence and warfare in urban contexts. It is not only that warfare has entered the city, however. Contemporary urban fabrics across the world are often actively designed, planned and organized by various stakeholders in the context of war and violence or the threat of it. Conflict and violence, I argue, is not something that should be understood as outside the processes of urbanization but, in some cases, as central to it. The increased proliferation of urban science, and their smart cities, has also witnessed the strengthening of surveillance apparatuses as part of attempts to control and subdue civilian populations, in particular in the Middle East and even Syria specifically. The construction of the built environment, as well as mobility and surveillance within it, can be central to the conduct of warfare and the extension of violence. Through a broader analysis of how conflict has been embedded within the processes of urbanization and the construction of the built environment through a range of contemporary case studies in the Middle East, I situate the current attempts by the Assad regime to “reconstruct” Syria. I argue that this rebuilding is not an attempt to resolve the conflict but is rather the continuation of warfare through other means: reconstruction as violence.

Biography: Deen Sharp is the co-director of Terreform, Center for Advanced Urban Research, and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the MIT. He is the co-editor of Beyond the Square: Urbanism and the Arab Uprisings (Urban Research: 2016) and the soon to be published Open Gaza (Urban Research: forthcoming). His most recent journal article was published in Progress in Human Geography. He is currently working on turning his doctoral dissertation entitled, “Corporate Urbanization: Between the future and survival in Lebanon” into a book. Previously, he was a freelance journalist and consultant based in Lebanon. He has written for a number of publications, including, Jadaliyya, Portal 9, MERIP, Arab Studies Journal and the Guardian. He has worked for several UN agencies, including UNDP and UN-Habitat, governments and international NGOs.
Sharp, Deen. "Concrete Conflict." Paper presented at "Reconstruction as Violence: The Case of Aleppo," Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 10-11, 2019.
Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT
reconstruction process