Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 4)

In this series about planning in Palestine we’ve looked at three alternative ‘plans’. The first, thankfully, will never be built (although, chillingly, it’s really just a vision of present segregated reality). The second may well be built (though it would take a dramatic turnaround in political will). The third offers a glimpse of a progress-free future where nothing gets built (which is wholly unrealistic, given large population increases in the next 20 years).

These three visions of a future Palestine raise some important political questions and they show how spatial planning can focus the political process on actually getting things done. Here are some of the issues: Continue reading “Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 4)”

Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 3)

What future can be planned for Palestine?

So far in this series we’ve looked at a nightmare sci-fi segregationalism generated merely from revealing the implications of the Oslo Accords as architectural impressions. We’ve also looked at a much more positive  spatial plan to develop a central north-south transit corridor, linking most of the main settlements and directing future urban growth without sprawl. The architectural student, the leading planner, what, thirdly,  would an artist have to offer in terms of a vision for Palestine? Continue reading “Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 3)”

Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 2)

arcI’m examining three very different visions of a planned future for Palestine in a week when the issue has been very much in the news. Of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Desmond Tutu said this week:

“you can give up on all other problems. You can give up on nuclear disarmament, you can give up on ever winning a war against terror, you can give it up. You can give up any hope of our faiths ever working really amicably and in a friendly way together. This, this, this is the problem, and it is in our hands”.

And US President Obama said: “I think it is important not to assume the worst but to assume the best.”

The first part of this series looked at a very dark vision for the future of the West Bank. The second plan I’m examining here certainly ‘assumes the best’ as Obama puts it. Continue reading “Beyond Enclaves in Palestine (Part 2)”

The Four Cultures of Administrative Justice

New article : A Cultural Analysis of Administrative Justice

This chapter from an upcoming book is a thoughtful take on the mismatch between contemporary concepts of public management and the theories of administrative justice that they intersect with.

It’s a good example of the usefulness of Grid-Group Cultural Theory to make sense of the social. The authors are specific: in their view Cultural Theory “promises two significant advances to the theory of administrative justice. First, Continue reading “The Four Cultures of Administrative Justice”

On The Age of the Unthinkable

Some of what journalist Joshua Cooper Ramo seems to be suggesting in his book The Age of the Unthinkable is already happening at a local level. Inspired by the science of social-ecological resilience, many communities around the world are adopting strategies of transition- from oil-dependent unsustainability to something more, well, resilient.

Some of this might trickle up to national and international institutions. Long term energy supply insecurity, coupled with climate change uncertainty make it very unlikely the world in even 20 years time will be much like it is now. But since we can’t really see into the future without getting it significantly wrong, it makes more sense to plan for multiple futures, and that means we need built-in redundancy to counterbalance over-brittle efficiency.

Two further contributions to this discussion: Continue reading “On The Age of the Unthinkable”

Beyond enclaves in Palestine: Constructing the physical reality of territorial integrity (Part 1)

I’ve been struck recently by three somewhat contrasting visions of physical development for a future Palestine.

Palestine. Perhaps nowhere else on earth has the philosophy of space been so consistently conceived as a weapon.

The sophistication of the manipulation of space for military and political purposes in the West Bank and Gaza has made the Berlin Wall and the DMZ look dumb by comparison, and the East/West Belfast sectarian divide seem distinctly amateur. Israel has pursued a policy of redefining its own spatial limitations by ‘walking through walls’ at the same time as constraining the movement of others by establishing new spatial limits ‘seam-line obstacles’ and ‘depth barriers’, contesting both below and above in what architect Eyal Weizman has called a ‘Hollow Land’. Continue reading “Beyond enclaves in Palestine: Constructing the physical reality of territorial integrity (Part 1)”

Normal service is about to be resumed

Thanks for staying put while my computer had a very big melt down, while I reset my system with Ubuntu, and while floods and storms meant my broadband connection was down  for several days. It’s enough to make me embarrassed to be mentioning the phrase ‘resilient systems’. But fear not, Fourcultures is back online and what passes for normal service will continue very soon….

Niche construction: what does it tell us about culture?

Meika recently posted a comment on this site, highlighting the concept of niche construction as a driver of evolution.
I found it fascinating, which, partly is why it’s taken me so long to respond. (The other reason is a total computer melt down). Anyway, I’m intrigued with the niche construction material, which I hadn’t come across. I’d agree with the authors of the book that this area is worthy of greater study, but can’t help wondering whether it really does constitute a new way of looking at evolution… Continue reading “Niche construction: what does it tell us about culture?”

‘I think we won’: Mary Douglas Interview

Mary Douglas, anthropologist and originator of what became grid-group cultural theory, was interviewed in 2006 by Cambridge anthropologist Alan MacFarlane. An annotated video is part of a large series of fascinating interviews he has conducted over many years. Exerpts are posted at Youtube (see below),  The long version is worth watching to find out what illness Mary Douglas had when she wrote Purity and Danger. At the start of Part 2 she describes the influence of Basil Bernstein on the ideas behind Natural Symbols. She suggests that, following Bernstein, hierarchical social arrangements should perhaps be termed ‘positional’. Of her work with Aaron Wildavsky on risk  she says, “I think we won”.