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Supervisor: Dr Maximilian Sternberg

Michal Huss


Research overview:

The research develops our understanding of the interaction between politics and the built environment in conflicted cities beyond elite-level politics, to a focus on obscure subaltern agency. Specifically, it examines how refugees affect the politics and public memory of conflicted cities by using the spaces and structures that embody these narratives during city walking tours. Walking thus holds a dual significance to this study, as a research topic and method, demonstrating a methodology of a ‘walk along’ ethnography. The study focuses on two key sites of analysis, Berlin and the officially named Jaffa-Tel Aviv municipality, which encompass multiple histories of migration, displacement, and division, and are the current homes of people that experience forced displacement. Through the analysis of city walking tours in both environments, the thesis argues that spatial politics does not merely exist in the symbolic attributes of building and memorials or their process of construction, but also in the ways they are represented by everyday users and walkers. As concluded, the tours’ hybridity of tourism, commemoration, profit seeking, creativity, and protest expands the scope of activism by and for forcefully displaced people beyond more familiar tactics. Yet, it further involves a conflict between a political ambition to acknowledge ‘otherness’ and transculturalism, and a commercial intent to consume it.



Michal began her PhD at the Architecture Department in October 2017. She is supervised by Dr Maximilian Sternberg and is an ESRC Cambridge Scholar at Girton college. Prior to this Michal gained a Distinction in MA Art and Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London, and holds a BA Joint Honours degree in History of Art and Fine Art from the same University. Michal has set up numerous workshops on radical cartography and educational counter-mapping projects in and around gentrifying spaces and migration detention centres.