טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentSprecher-Segalovitz Shira
SubjectDeathScape
Muslim Cemeteries and the Evolution of Urban
Landscape: Mamilla and Abed al-Nabi as
Case Studies
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Alona Nitzan-Shiftan
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

The main focus of this research is to examine spatial practices in which a landscape is replaced by another. It examines practices which have turned the urban landscape of Mandatory Palestine into an Israeli "Place". The matter is examined through two study cases of Muslim cemeteries located in the midst of urban areas: Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem and Abed al-Nabi cemetery in Jaffa - Tel-Aviv. The research studies how these cemeteries generated the production of urban landscape, beginning with the British Mandate period and until the end of the 1960's, relating to several disciplinary and theoretical frameworks.

The two cemeteries have gone through several transformations in the period of the research, ultimately redeveloped as urban parks1 in the 1950's. The research recites the histories of the cemeteries and the parks and describes the various transformations they have gone through. The planned and unplanned, conscious and repressed relationship of the cemeteries with their surroundings is taken into consideration, as well as its socio-political consequences.

Several professional mechanisms will be examined within the historical period they were part of; the first chapter deals with the Mandatory period and focuses on urban planning. It examines how the urban plan becomes the site of spatial negotiations between different players on the management and development of the cemeteries. The chapter is essential in understanding the change in the status of the cemeteries after 1948; the second chapter deals with the post-war period and the act of  destruction. Destruction is examined in this chapter as a "productive" spatial alternative, enabling the appropriation of space and allowing diverse temporary uses to be located in the cemeteries; the third chapter deals with the spatial arrangement of the cemeteries as urban parks through landscape design in the period until the late 1960's. This chapter will examine the attempts to transform the cemeteries into an "Israeli Place" through their redesign as urban parks. It will examine the making of these two parks through the periodic professional discourse in landscape design, as well as in relation to the issue of locality, demonstrating the power of cultural practices in the constitution of national identity through the design of space.

Many researches deal with the influence, physical as well as symbolic, of the remains of the Palestinian settlements on the arrangement of the Israeli space and on the attachment to the place. However, cemeteries are almost completely absent from this discourse, as well as from the general discourse of spatial research. The discussion of cemeteries in general and Muslim cemeteries in particular, usually


    belongs to one of two research categories:
  1. A religious discourse or a memorial discourse, which conceals the possibilityof understanding their status as significant sites in the urban space.
  2. Researches that relate to the cemeteries as marginal spaces, geographicallyand culturally, which in many ways conflict with the existing city.

The research attempts to go beyond these two significant theoretical frameworks, and expand the contextual framework for discussing the influence of the cemeteries to the urban space. Alternatively, the research examines the cemeteries within the discourse of the production of urban space, and the modes in which these cemeteries produced the urban landscape.


The research is part of the general discourse of landscape and of urban landscape in particular. The landscape is examined in this context as a process that designs society as well as the identities of its subjects, as an active agent in the formation of social and political programs rather than a passive object which only reflects them; "Landscape" as a verb and not only as a noun (Corner 1999 ,Mitchell 2002 ,Meyer 2005, Kolodney and Kallus 2008). Within this context landscape is an idea that is open to transformation and interpretation, described by Tamar Berger, as that which "by definition, calls for a receptive human subject, and therefore is always a relation between a man and place, and not something that stands in itself." (Berger 2008, 92).
Furthermore, the process of the production of man-made landscape involves a clear usage of power; therefore its design is an expression for consistent negotiations between different groups (Luz 2004).
According to Helphand, in Eretz-Israel - Palestine and later in the State of Israel, the production of space was conceptualized not only as an act of design but also as conscious embodiment of a system of values (Helphand 2002).

The research is a qualitative one, relying on primary as well as on secondary resources. The primary resources include diverse archive materials, among them: correspondences and protocols of municipal and government meetings, newspaper articles, photographs and architectural materials. The secondary resources include a wide range of literature on the various themes the research deals with, and a relevant historiography of the space in Mandatory Eretz-Israel - Palestine and later on in the State of Israel.


The interpretational reading of the various documents will reveal the complexity of the transformations the cemeteries have gone through. This conflictual and ambivalent process will shed light on the modes of action applied by the various practices in the design of space, and the influence of the cemeteries on these practices.

Furthermore, the discussion will reveal observations that relate to the application of these practices when transferred from the colonial to the national period, and from Jerusalem to Jaffa - Tel-Aviv.

The research ends in the late 1960's, with the finishing of the process of arrangement of the cemeteries as urban parks. The summarizing chapter examines the success of the re-arrangement in light of the contemporary state of the two cemeteries/parks, and raises reflections on the challenging place of these cemeteries in Israeli cities, and the role of conservation as an additional means in the transformation of space within this framework.




1 The word “Park” was chosen to translate the Hebrew word Gan (Garden). Although the word “Park”
is more accurate in this context, one should note that it lacks few of the meanings of the
Gan - an
enclosed, controlled piece of manmade landscape. Where the word “Garden” was used originally (in
archival material), it was kept this way.