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On not being Dubai: infrastructures of urban cultural policy in Istanbul & Beirut

Centner, Ryan ORCID: 0000-0002-3295-3186 (2020) On not being Dubai: infrastructures of urban cultural policy in Istanbul & Beirut. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 26 (6). 722 - 739. ISSN 1028-6632

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Identification Number: 10.1080/10286632.2020.1811249


This paper compares how Istanbul and Beirut both attempt to underline their cultural and developmental uniqueness today in contrast to a metonymic menace — Dubai, standing in for spectacular yet supposedly culture-less Gulf cities. Even amid their own speculative construction frenzies that threaten local heritage, Turkish and Lebanese city-shapers assert theirs are “real” cities because they have “civilization” and “history.” By addressing their own efforts to build, defend, or oppose physical infrastructures related to local urban culture, Istanbullus and Beirutis rely on and reassert strategic, phatic discourses that frequently reference Gulf cities as counterpoint. Analysis focuses on how each city crafts a distinctive urban profile via civilizational appeals to historic senses of culture, inflecting infrastructural developments related to bridging (Istanbul) and bordering (Beirut). Historical truisms are deployed with marked flexibility to showcase these cities as “not Dubai.” This study offers lessons on the particular worlding of Middle Eastern cities and the role of discourses in the material-symbolic infrastructure of implicit urban cultural policy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2020 12:33
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 02:54

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