Hoppa till huvudinnehåll

Feras Hammami

Universitetslektor, biträdande

Institutionen för
Guldhedsgatan 5A
41320 Göteborg
Box 130
40530 Göteborg

Om Feras Hammami

Currently employed as assistant professor at the Department of Conservation, GU. Before that I worked as researcher and teacher (2015-2016) at the same department, and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship (2013-2014) in critical heritage studies – the working name of the priority research area on cultural heritage initiated in 2010 at GU. I received my PhD in Planning and Decision Analysis from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, 2005-2012). My PhD thesis, entitled “Heritage in Authority-Making”, explored the transnational spaces of heritage management, focusing on the power dynamics that through heritage trascend societal development in Palestine, Botswana and Sweden.

Research areas

My research concerns the politicisation of heritage and its entangelment in social conflicts and resistance in cities: the ways heritage and urban resistance are entageled in negotiating the critical questions of security, identity, sense of place, recognition, memory and "representation"; and the new possibilities that heritage can offer for reconciliation and peacebuilding.

I have three ongoing research projects.

1. URBAN MARGINALITY AND RESISTANCE IN CONTEMPORARY FRAGMENTED CITIES will investigate the role that ‘heritage’ can play in originating and appropriating various forms of urban change and marginality. The project is funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board, and will run from 2017 to 2019 (RAÄ, Feras Hammami, project leader). The urbanisation processes in Gothenburg will be analysed to make direct contribution to the current debates in Sweden on ‘inclusive heritage’ and ‘equal and sustainable cities’, and frame ‘state-of-the-art’ assessment and suggestions for policy implications.

Cities are constantly being transformed, physically and socially due to urbanization, migration and other forms of societal changes. Changes in urban density, proximity, mobility, temporality and diversity can result in significant impact on people’s social networks, commons and place attachment. These changes are often debated as inevitable and vital for modernisation and progress. However, several scholars explain the various forms of marginality such changes can produce. People may become excluded, alienated or displaced following issues of income, ethnicity, class and territoriality. This project sheds light on how heritage-led forms of urban marginality may also occur when ignoring or assimilating the multiple layers of history, cultures and representations that characterise cities, and how this can encumber any attempt to realise equal and sustainable cities.

The project departs from the argument that a process of ‘heritageisation’ has since the 19th century been defining our valuable past and desired future. This process favours the physical heritage, experts’ knowledge, single representation of the past, and the experiences of ruling and upper-middle classes. It is also asserted in this project that an overlooked relationship exists between urbanisation and heritageisation, and this relationship has resulted in authoritative representations of the past in urban policy discourses and documents. These arguments and assertions will be investigated in relation to the urbanisation processes in Gothenburg to uncover the role that ‘heritage’ may play in appropriating urban change and marginality, and thereby contribute to the current debates on ‘inclusive heritage’ and ‘equal and sustainable cities’.

A critical heritage approach urban change and marginality will be used to investigate: - How do urbanisation processes in places with multiple layers of history authorise specific layers at the expense of others, and thus result in “vertical” forms of marginalities? - How do urbanisation processes in places used by multi-cultural communities favour the protection of the historic traces and physical expressions of specific cultures at the expense of others, and thus cause “horizontal” forms of marginality. - How can heritage play a potential role in going beyond the traditional vertices of urban marginality––class, ethnicity, state––and expand the meaning of urbanisastion towards identity, memory and place attachment? - How can rethinking “marginality” in relation to heritage offer new knowledge on “inclusion” in the making of heritage and cities?

The project contributes to current debates about “new inclusive cultural heritage policy that hold Sweden together” (Kulturdepartmentet, 2016-03-22) and “Jämlikt Göteborg–Hela staden social hålbar” (Göteborgs Stad 2016). Inclusion in these debates seems to be limited to the "inclusion of people’s different perspectives on Swedish heritage” (Kulturdepartmentet 2016). This project will challenge this conception by promoting new dialogues on 'heritage' as plural and open to multiple and changing claims and interpretations. This suggests a new understanding of 'inclusion' beyond assimilation and single representation. The idea is to move towards a new meaning of 'inclusion' that promotes ‘plural heritages in Sweden’, and a shift from “what does heritage mean?” to “what does it do?”. The relevance of this project exists in its capacity to enhance these shifts and help challenge the traditional divide in vision between heritage and planning practices. A trans-disciplinary approach that dwells on critical heritage, urban and resistance studies will be used to explore the overlooked relationship between heritageisation and urbanisation that helps - appropriate urban change and its associated identity contestations - explain the management of marginality as a matter of socio-political distribution and symbolic power - help see the social responses to marginality as reaction to physical displacement, to economic unaffordability, self-interest - help overlook people’s right to heritage, representation, social networks - fail any attempt to disconnect policies of urban development and heritage management from the dominant singular representations of the past - and sustain a limited capacity in these policies when addressing the impact of urban change on people’s identities and narratives.

These explorations will offer new knowledge on heritage, inclusion and marginality, and thus reveal the role heritage can play in making cities equal and sustainable. The case is the suburb Gamlestaden, located eastern of the city of Gothenburg. The built environment of Gamlestaden is situated over the ruins of Nya Lödöse (1473-1624). These ruins are currently uncovered by massive archaeological excavations that seek to integrate that history in the new development, including a new shopping centre, offices and housing. Interviews, focus group workshops, participant observation and photographic documentation, will be used to explore the impacts of the development on: the social, cultural and spatial fabrics; the multiple layers of history; today’s quality of life; and the expressions of the 1474-1624 history of Nya Lödöse and today’s multicultural Gamlestaden in the urban change.

The project will begin in Jan 2017, and end in Dec 2019.

2. RECONCILIATORY HERITAGE: Reconstructing Heritage in a Time of Violent Fragmentations in collaboration with six scholars from the university of Gothenburg, funded by the Swedish National Research Council (VR; 2017-2020; Michael Lanzelius at URBSEC, project leader). In this project we will look at the surge of social conflicts that have erupted worldwide during the last decades and investigate the ways heritage sites have become targets as well as arenas for struggles over memories and identities, authority and superiority. In specific, we are interested in exploring the ways various claims and forms of contestations in conflicts are deeply entangled in questions that pertain to a heritage-and-security nexus (ranging from personal to state security; from personal to state heritage). This project is expected to help us uncover the possibilities that heritage may offer for reconciliation in our present violently fragmented world, and based on this, to contribute a ‘state-of-the-art’ assessment and suggestions for guidelines regarding how such reconciliatory possibilities can be implemented in practical work. The project is organized in a number of working packages and cases studies. I will look at how the contested religious shrine, which is known for Muslims as Ibrahimi Mosque and for Jews and Christians as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, has become a vehicle for violent conflict and what potentials it might still have for reconciliation.

3. HERITAGE AND URBAN RESISTANCE: exploring identity politics, commons and conflict. This project is carried out through collaboration with School of Design and Crafts (GU), and School of Design Strategies, Parsons the New School for Design in New York, and funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board (RAÄ, Feras Hammami, project leader). It investigates the ways heritage and urban resistance, both as concepts and as empirical realities for people on the ground, are fundamentally interdependent and constitute multiple sites of conflict. We analyze these interdependencies in Sweden, Turkey and Palestine with the aim to activate a new dialogue on the role of heritage authorities in the making of contemporary societies.

Research interests - Heritage and resistance - Conflict heritage - The heritage of war and its legacieis - Heritage as spaces of struggles - Uses of heritage for peacebuilding - Politics of identity and sense of place in cities - Urbanisation and heritageisation - Palestine, Sweden, Botswana, Turkey and many others (to come)