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Emily Bereskin (Postdoc Fellow)


Postdoc Project

Shared Space in Divided Cities: Spaces and Practices of Ethnic Deterritorialization in Cyprus

My project analyzes the development of shared spaces and the processes of deterritorialization in the ethnonationally partitioned city of Nicosia and the contested city of Famagusta. The project reverses a common line of inquiry about the detrimental impacts of architecture in conflict to make new arguments about how the built environment can positively contribute to peacebuilding. By analyzing diverse initiatives, both planned and unplanned, I show how the built environment stimulates social reconciliation by creating opportunities for cross-communal cooperation, by helping rewrite divisive narratives, and by creating more inclusive spaces.

If we frame Metropolitanität as the quality of “the world in the city,” as a heightened state of global interchange and interurban connectivity, then nothing destroys this characteristic so quickly as violent conflict. At moments when social conflict turns violent, the world hastily retreats from the city. Tourists pack up and leave. Ports and airports shut down. Trade slows to a halt. Networks of social, cultural and artistic interchange are cut off. Residents turn inward, strengthening bonds with ingroup members, and turning distrustful and fearful of outgroups. Formerly cosmopolitan, multifaceted identities are transformed into more essentialized ethnocentric conceptions of self and other. Seeking safety, populations segregate, often barricading themselves behind physical partitions. Routes are severed, mobility is curtailed, and lived experience localizes within small urban enclaves. No matter how complex and historically rich, the city's previous identity is replaced with collective imaginings of current strife and violence.

After violence ceases or becomes sufficiently contained, cities face the task of physical, economic and social reconstruction. Social and spatial partition poses an especially challenging obstacle; once begun, division develops its own momentum and is nearly impossible to reverse. This is particularly true in the case of ethnic or ethnonationalist conflict, where structural or material issues are entwined with non-negotiable issues of identity, and where intergroup relations are plagued with feelings of fear, mistrust, and antagonism. I hypothesize that in such situations, local patterns of division and mistrust are often overcome through reconnection with global systems.

To substantiate this hypothesis, this project analyzes the rescaling of the global and the local as a two-fold question with respect to urban development and conflict transformation. First, I examine the increasingly central role of transnational and global systems as agents of change in the reconstruction of cities defined by stark ethnic polarization. How do transnational systems direct change and contribute to local peacebuilding? Conversely, how do local actors bring their interests in line with global agendas? Second, I analyze strategies used to overcome local divisions and oppositional identities by spatially, socially, and symbolically relinking the city to the larger world. Can the processes through which cosmopolitan openness is replaced with essentialized ethnic identity politics be reversed? How might the restoration of cosmopolitanism help to overcome localized patterns of ethnic divide? How does all of this play out at the level of urban development, a crucial arena of change?

My project examines multiple transnational networks including those related to governance, business, civil society, and social movements. I show how projects as diverse as historic preservation, business development, city marketing, tourism, artistic practices, and even video games can all improve intercommunal contact and collaboration, reverse the territorialization of space, and foster the development of more cosmopolitan, less oppositional identities.



Doctor of Philosophy, History of Art
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Concentration: Architecture and Historical Urbanism
Dissertation: “Staging the Post-conflict City: Tourism, Urban Change, and Symbolic Contestation in Belfast, Northern Ireland”

Masters of Arts, History of Art
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Master's Thesis: "Transforming Visual Culture in Northern Ireland"

Bachelor of Arts, History of Art
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Honors Thesis: "Form, Narrative, and the Sculptural Dimensions of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle"


2013 – 2015
Postdoctoral Fellow
International Graduate Research Program Berlin - New York - Toronto
Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University of Berlin

2014 – Present
Norwich University at CityLab, Berlin
Courses: Architectural Theory and History; German Art and Politics; Memory and the City

Bahçeşehir University, Berlin
Course: Art, Culture, Society

Lexia International, Berlin
Course: Urban Visual Culture

2012 – 2013
Teaching Fellow
Northeastern University in Berlin
Course: German Architectural History

2006 – 2007
Teaching Assistant
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Courses: Modern Architecture; Urban Planning and Historical Urbanism

2004 – 2005
Rosenbach Museum and Library, Philadelphia
Assistant to the directors


Forthcoming (2016)
“Tourism Provision as Protest in the ‘Post-conflict City’” in Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City, Novy and Colomb (London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis).

Forthcoming (2016)
“Discourses of a Divided City” in Neoliberalism & Tourism: Projects, Discourses and Practices, Mosedale (London: Ashgate).

Forthcoming (2016)
“Infrastructures of Juncture: Separation Barriers and Intercommunal Contact in Belfast and Nicosia” New Diversities Special Issue: The Infrastructures of Diversity: Materiality and Culture in Urban Space.

“Sinking or Surfacing? Belfast´s Titanic Comeback,” Book review: Relaunching Titanic: Memory and Marketing in the New Belfast, ed. William J.V. Neill and Berna Grist (London: Routledge, 2014). Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal vol. 8 no. 3 Spring 2015.

“Staging the Post-conflict City: Tourism, Urban Change, and Symbolic Contestation in Belfast, Northern Ireland.” PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, ProQuest Depository.

“Urban Space and Group Identity during the Funeral Rites of Lech Kaczynski” European City/Evropské Město (Online).


Book Manuscript
Shared Space in Divided Cities: Staging the Built Environment for Peace  


June 2-4, 2016
“Beyond Preservation: An Argument for Social Engagement in Post-conflict Heritage Practice”
Roundtable: Cities, Preservation, and Violence
Fourth International Conference of the European Architectural History Network
Dublin, Ireland

July 9-10, 2015
“Infrastructures of Division, Infrastructure of Juncture: Separation Barriers and Intercommunal Contact in Belfast and Nicosia”
The Infrastructures of Diversity: Materiality and Culture in Urban Space
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Göttingen, Germany

November 27-30, 2014
“Tourism Provision as Protest in Post-conflict Belfast”
Protest and Resistance in the Tourist City
Technical University; Berlin, Germany

November 19, 2014
“Transforming Temporal Strategies of Conflict Transformation: Manipulating Memory as an Instrument of Peacebuilding in Cyprus”
Questioning the Temporalities of Metropolitan Memory
IGK, Technical University; Berlin, Germany

October 25, 2014
“Animating Heritage Practices as a Peacebuilding Mechanism”
Work in Public Decad; Berlin, Germany

June 16, 2014
“The Bauhaus and ‘das Neue Wohnen’ in Weimar Berlin”
The Global Scholars Program Summer Research Workshop: Contemporary Cities of Eurasia: Berlin, Moscow, Ulan Bator, Beijing
Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University; Berlin, Germany

June 5-7, 2014
“Revealing Heritage in a Divided City: Urban Exploration and Conflict Narratives in Nicosia, Cyprus”
Critical Ethnographies of Heritage in the Mediterranean, 5th Annual Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference
University of Bergamo; Bergamo, Italy

April 4, 2014
“Placemaking and Conflict Transformation in Nicosia, Cyprus”
On the Frontiers of Place-Making
Graduate Center CUNY; New York, United States

September 5-7, 2013
“Urban Development and Civic Identity in Nicosia, Cyprus”
Reconstruction and Reconciliation, Critical Legal Studies
Queens University; Belfast, Northern Ireland

November 2-3, 2012
“Tourism as an Activist Strategy in Northern Ireland”
Urban-Activism-Scholarship: Global Discourses in Local Historical and Contemporary Contexts; 1st Annual IGK Conference
Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University; Berlin, Germany

September 2011
“Culture Expressions in Belfast: 1998 – 2011,”
Denkstadt Lecture Series
Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University; Berlin, Germany

June 17-18, 2010
“Tourism and the Built Environment in Post-conflict Cities: A Study of Belfast, Berlin and Beirut”  Transatlantic Perspectives on the Metropolis; 3rd Annual TGK Conference
Transatlantic Graduate Kolleg, Technical University; Berlin, Germany

May 14-18, 2010
“Ethnicity and Public Art in the Symbolic Landscape”
Ethnicity and the City Research Conference Bratislava/Vienna
Sponsored by the Multicultural Center Prague; Bratislava, Slovakia

April 16-21, 2010
“Reflections on Urban Space and Group Identity during the Funeral Rites of Lech Kaczynski” Ethnicity and the City Research Conference Ostrava/Krakow
Sponsored by the Multicultural Center Prague; Krakow, Poland

July 9-11, 2009
“Transitional Spaces in Northern Ireland: The Reframing and Recentering of Political Murals in Belfast”
Interstices: Carving and Painting Urban Environments
Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia; Lisbon, Portugal

October 12-13, 2007
“Thanatourism and the Transformation of Visual Culture in Northern Ireland”
To the Ends of the Earth: Journeys Ancient and Modern Graduate Group Symposium
Bryn Mawr College; Bryn Mawr, United States

April 15, 2007
“Sporting Spaces: The 2006 FIFA World Cup and Berlin’s Public Sphere”
Public Space Symposium
Bryn Mawr College; Bryn Mawr, United States


Society of Architectural Historians
Curating the City – University of Gothenberg Critical Heritage Studies
On Walls Research Group
Peace Research Institute Cyprus


May – August 2015
Nicosia and Famagusta, Cyprus
(Field Research)

April 2014
Philadelphia, PA; United States
(Archival Research)

September – November 2013
Nicosia, Cyprus
(Field Research)

August – September 2013
Belfast, Northern Ireland
(Field Research)

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