An Aesthetic Occupation

The Immediacy of Architecture and the Palestine Conflict

An Aesthetic Occupation
Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 9 b&w photos Published: March 2002

Subjects
Art and Visual Culture > Architecture, Middle East Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory


In An Aesthetic Occupation Daniel Bertrand Monk unearths the history of the unquestioned political immediacy of “sacred” architecture in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Monk combines groundbreaking archival research with theoretical insights to examine in particular the Mandate era—the period in the first half of the twentieth century when Britain held sovereignty over Palestine. While examining the relation between monuments and mass violence in this context, he documents Palestinian, Zionist, and British attempts to advance competing arguments concerning architecture’s utility to politics.
Succumbing neither to the view that monuments are autonomous figures onto which political meaning has been projected, nor to the obverse claim that in Jerusalem shrines are immediate manifestations of the political, Monk traces the reciprocal history of both these positions as well as describes how opponents in the conflict debated and theorized their own participation in its self-representation. Analyzing controversies over the authenticity of holy sites, the restorations of the Dome of the Rock, and the discourse of accusation following the Buraq, or Wailing Wall, riots of 1929, Monk discloses for the first time that, as combatants looked to architecture and invoked the transparency of their own historical situation, they simultaneously advanced—and normalized—the conflict’s inability to account for itself.
This balanced and unique study will appeal to anyone interested in Israel or Zionism, the Palestinians, the Middle East conflict, Jerusalem, or its monuments. Scholars of architecture, political theory, and religion, as well as cultural and critical studies will also be informed by its arguments.

Praise

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, even the stones are invested with meaning, and ‘sacred’ architecture can take on a devastating political significance for both sides in the conflict.” — Columbia College Today

"[An] ambitious excavation of ‘the career of architecture’ in the prehistory of the Palestine conflict. . . ."
— Gabriel Piterberg , New Left Review

"[H]old[s] an array of fascinating facts and historical tidbits. . . . Monk certainly provides an innovative paradigm to approach the modern tensions centering on the two holy sites in Jerusalem. . . An Aesthetic Occupation should be of interest to Palestinian scholars for its exemplary historical rigor and to those concerned with the cultural relationship between architecture and political violence." — Lynne Rogers, Al Jadid

"[T]he data gleaned from the archives is brilliantly subjected to a theoretical powerhouse combining postmodern insights into history, architecture, philosophy, postcolonial studies, and art critique. The result is an intellectual feast. . . . The main strength of Monk's essay [is] its rigorous commitment to presenting new data with theoretical sophistication. . . ." — Dan Rabinowitz, Journal of Palestine Studies

"Bertrand Monk takes an unorthodox look into the history of the 'sacred' architecture in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis." — Middle East Journal

"The author unearths the history of the political immediacy of ‘sacred’ architecture in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, examining in particular the Mandate era. While examining the relation between monuments and mass violence in this context, he documents Palestinian, Zionist, and British attempts to advance competing arguments concerning architecture’s utility to politics." — Shofar

“A revelatory history of the architectural construction of the Israel/Palestine conflict that is also a stunningly original contribution to critical theory in the tradition of Adorno and Benjamin. Monk shows how both sides—thanks in part to the British—became trapped in a deadly quicksand of sacralized geographies and imagined histories.” — Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations

Glossary

Note on Transliteration

Preface

Introduction: The Foundation Stone of Our National Existence, without Exaggeration

Part I. Stone

1. A Hieroglyph Designed by God

Part II. Tile

2. An Unmistakable Sign

3. You are Blind to the Meaning of the Dome of the Rock

4. Cataclysm and Pogrom: An Exergue on the Naming of Violence

Part III. Paper

5. Sir Alfred Mond’s After-Dinner Eloquence

6. Designs on Our Holy Places

Part IV. Celluloid

Conclusion: A Terrible Caricature

Notes

Bibliography

Index
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2814-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2803-2
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