Constructing space

Constructing space: the utilization of archaeological sites and historical sites of national importance in urban planning - Jaffa as a case study

In his research Chemi Shiff intends to explore changes in the utilization of archaeological sites and historical sites as part of Jaffa's urban planning, and how they reflect processes in the formation of a communal and national identity in Israeli Society. At the focus of his research is the examination of three development projects that have taken place in Jaffa since the 1960s and an analysis of the changing implementations of the judicial categorization regarding the definition, restoration and public presentation of archaeological sites as opposed to historical sites of national importance. Shiff's claim is that such an examination illuminates two ostensibly negating processes. On one hand it exemplifies the attempt made by official authorities to create a new Zionist identity, causing the erasure of the Palestinian presence in Jaffa. Simultaneously, it reveals the methods the Palestinian community adopted in order to challenge these dichotomous categories in order to perpetuate their collective identity as part of Jaffa's urban structure. These processes underline how the confrontation between "professional knowledge" and "grassroots knowledge" continuously promotes the reconstruction of a national identity.