The fourth issue of Manazir Journal focuses on “making art” in urban public space in North Africa and the Middle East. Whether visual or performative, these urban arts (tags, graffiti, street art, murals, performances, live shows, sculptures and installations) contribute to renewing forms of expression of politics in public space and, more broadly, to transforming urban space. Indeed, the graffiti and street art scene has accelerated over the past decade in line with the so-called “Arab Spring”: every year, graffiti on walls multiply, new urban art centers appear, and festivals entirely dedicated to street art are organized. All these initiatives are gradually turning the city into an “open-air gallery” and are transforming the relationship between city dwellers and urban public space. While many scholarly works have begun to take an interest in artistic practices in the MENA region, few of them have explored their urban dimensions. By asking what art does to the city, the contributions in this issue question the renewal of the links between art, modes of appropriation of urban space, and forms of political expression.

About the authors

Marie Bonte is a geographer and Associate Professor at Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis and at the Laboratory of Social Dynamics and Spatial Reconstruction (LADYSS). She is the head of the “Mondes Méditerranéens en Mouvements” Master’s Program. Her research interests lie in social, political and cultural geographies in Middle Eastern and North African cities, particularly in Lebanon. Her work focuses on urban nightlife activities and practices, and drinking patterns. Her PhD thesis, defended in 2017, described and analyzed Beirut’s nightlife and socio-spatial reconfigurations of the city through the lens of post-conflict. She has also co-edited a special issue on the geographies of ghosts and alcohol practices in the Global South.

Marion Slitine is an anthropologist and currently a post-doctoral fellow, Centre Norbert Elias joint research unit (UMR 8562), School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS, Paris) and Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem, Marseille). She is the author of a thesis entitled « La Palestine en créations. La fabrique de l’art contemporain, des territoires occupés aux scènes mondialisées. » Additionally, she is conducting research on the interactions between art, city and politics in the Arab world, specifically the urban cultures found in Palestine and Morocco. More broadly, her research explores cultural circulations between the Near East and the Maghreb and the disciplinary crossings between artistic and ethnographic practices. Her work has been published in the journals Cities, The International Journal of Urban Policy, and Planning and Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée.

Marie Bonte et Marion Slitine (dir.)

Ce que l’art fait à la ville en Afrique du Nord et au Moyen-Orient. Pratiques artistiques, expressions du politique et transformations de l’espace public
Manazir Journal, Bern Open Publishing/Universität Bern, vol. 4, octobre 2022.
Textes en accès libre.