An Aesthetic Occupation: The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict
By: Daniel Monk (author)Hardback
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The title of Dan Monk's book, An Aesthetic Occupation refers to the attributions by the combatants on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict of political content to the sacred structures in the contested area, and to the ongoing inseparability within the conflict of architectural form and violence. Monk combines groundbreaking archival research with theoretical insights to trace the history of what he calls a "politics of monuments" during the "Mandate era," the period in the first half of the twentieth century when Britain exercised a measure of sovereignty over Palestine. Monk argues that those monuments that seem to repeatedly trigger outbursts of violence do not have the architectural immediacy attributed to them: they are not inherently political. Instead, political significance and content are endlessly projected onto them by those on both sides of the conflict. The legacy of General Charles George Gordon, a late-nineteenth-century British imperialist whose study of Palestinian holy sites, Monk argues, signalled the shift from focusing on the uses of the spaces to the claims for those uses.
It is here, he claims, that sacred spaces became sites for rewriting the cultural politics of Modernity. Drawing on the unpublished archives of the family of Ernest Tatham Richmond, an architect and former Chief Secretary for Political Affairs to the British government in Palestine, Monk relates to the restoration of the Dome of the Rock to what he deems the chief historical crisis of architecture-that politics is presumed to use representations of holiness as fronts for its secular goals. The discourse following the violent Wailing Wall riots of 1929, when the opponents in Palestine were compelled to explain their own national imperatives through duelling interpretations of the cause of the conflict serves to demonstrate how the interpretations of others are reinterpreted, which constitutes the ultimate paradox of politics.
Daniel Bertrand Monk is George T. and Myra W. Cooley Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Program [P-CON] at Colgate University.
Contents - The Foundation Stone of our National Existence; Part One - Stone; A Hieroglyph Designed by God; Part Two - Tile; An Unmistakable Sign; You Are Blind to the Meaning of the Dome of the Rock; Cataclysm and Pogrom - An Exergue on the Naming of Violence; Part Three - Paper; Sir Alfred Mond's After Dinner Eloquence; Designs on our Holy Places; Part Four - Conclusion; A Terrible Caricature
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- ID: 9780822328032
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