Profile of Mr Feras Hammami University of Gothenburg

Feras Hammami

Feras is a postdoctoral research fellow in critical heritage studies, University of Gothenburg. He received PhD in Planning and Decision Analysis with specialisation in Urban and Regional Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, 2012. His research is about heritage, identity politics and planning in Botswana, Palestine and Sweden. Some of his publications are with the journals Planning Theory and Practice; and Planning Education and Research. As a YA-coordination team member, his tasks include communications and coordination of local meetings. He received the conference best paper prize twice: the Communication and Planning, UK, 2012; and Landscapes of Planning, Czech Republic, 2010

General research interests

Heritage, authority, urban politics, governance power, identity politics and planning.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Heritage in Authority-Making

PhD Abstract

The perpetual evolution of the value of heritage in urban development is producing new socio-spatial realities, shaped by different relationships of power at multiple scales. Heritage has always played an important role in the construction of individual and group identities, but is now increasingly seen as a capital for the making of city identity. Although professional heritage practices have attempted to embrace a similar or parallel vision, they are likely to overlook how interventions in heritage challenge identity, meaning and sense of place. This thesis employs methods of discursive analysis to investigate the evolution and the appropriation of heritage in three socio-political contexts: Botswana, a post-colonial society; Palestine, an occupied society; and Sweden, a developed Western society. It also uncovers the ways authority is put to work through the discursive field of heritage in historic environments.

Heritage in Palestine under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, and the Israeli Occupation has been engulfed by both armed and discursive struggles over history, identity, and superiority. Narratives of the ‘Holy Land’ in addition to the pressures of the occupation forces and international interventions have shaped current heritage practices in the Historic City of Nablus. In Botswana, Western planning ideas have been promoted in both the colonial and post-colonial eras, with little attention to local culture. The socio-spatial realities this produces have divorced the Batswana from the familiar and played an authoritarian role in defining valuable heritage in the development of Shoshong village and Sowa town. Heritage in the town of Ystad, Sweden, has since the late nineteenth century been regulated and legitimized through a consistent inscription of a medieval identity on the town landscape, overlooking social and spatial consequences.

These findings are presented in four papers that each addresses a specific aspect of heritage in urban development. An introductory monograph links the articles, developing theoretical analyses on how heritage-authority relations. This discussion goes beyond direct practices of authority in management of physical heritage. Instead, it uncovers how heritage is utilised to gain and reinforce authority over identity politics in historic environments. It also sheds light on how discursive struggles over meaning in the three cases are influenced by a ‘universalized heritage discourse’. In this discourse, heritage is perceived as physical things representing a specific version of the past, framed by European values and controlled by professional expertise and conventional knowledge. This discourse is rooted in the ‘authorized heritage discourse’ that emerged in Europe in the nineteenth century and disseminated globally through international treaties on heritage. Situating site-specific interventions in their social, cultural, and political contexts would allow for productive dissonance, rather than narrow mediations of competing views. The virtue of working with heritage in the face of authority at different spatial scales is stressed as one way to build sufficient capacity in heritage practices, capacity that would allow individuals and social groups to freely negotiate their identity against any intervention in their spaces of heritage.

Latest deposited documents

Legitimation of interventions in historic city areas: the case of the well–preserved Ystad image
Legitimation of interventions in historic city areas: the case of the well–preserved Ystad (February 2012)

This study investigates the discursive practices that work to authorize and legitimize particular meanings and modes of conservation activities in...