Settler colonialism in unexpected places: Sami Mahmoud Tayeb, Manufacturing the McCity: a case study of the Rawabi urban development project in Palestine, MA Dissertation, American University of Beirut, 2017


Abstract: This thesis is a case study of the Rawabi urban development project that is currently in progress in the West Bank. Rawabi is the first master-planned Palestinian city that first broke ground in early 2010 and is the largest private sector project ever carried out in Palestine. Once the city is complete, it is expected to house more than 40,000 residents and cost more than $1 billion. Therefore, this thesis will investigate what recent political, economic, and social changes in Palestine have impacted urban development in the West Bank in ways that have made the emergence of Rawabi possible. Moreover, it seeks to answer what are the social relations that have produced the space that Rawabi occupies and what kind of urban form has materialized as a result. Finally, it hopes to explain what are the main drivers of the new type of urban space that Rawabi embodies, how have they come together to make Rawabi a reality, and what goals do they hope to achieve through the realization of Rawabi. To address these questions, a framework for analysis on urban development in the West Bank that merges spatial theory with political economy will be used to explain how the coalescence of urban spatial production, neoliberalism, Israeli settler-colonialism, and the reconstitution of political-economic networks at local, regional, and transnational levels have made the realization of Rawabi possible. The thesis argues what has emerged out of these processes is a new urban form, which it calls the McCity. Accordingly, this argument will be unpacked in the following chapters. Chapter two consists of two parts where the theoretical framework presents the concepts of conceived space, abstract space, and neoliberalism, while the literature review explores recent political, economic, and social transformations that have occurred in the West Bank – all within the context of Israeli settler-colonialism. Chapters three and four are a socio-spatial analysis of Rawabi that focuses on the project’s urban form […].

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