Everyday agency and transformation: Place, body and story in the divided city

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How do we identify and understand transformative agency in the quotidian that is not contained in formal, or even informal structures? This article investigates the ordinary agency of Palestinian inhabitants in the violent context of the divided city of Jerusalem. Through a close reading of three ethnographic moments I identify creative micropractices of negotiating the separation barrier that slices through the city. To conduct this analytical work I propose a conceptual grid of place, body and story through which the everyday can be grasped, accessed and understood. ‘Place’ encompasses the understanding that the everyday is always located and grounded in materiality; ‘body’ takes into account the embodied experience of subjects moving through this place; and ‘story’ refers to the narrative work conducted by human beings in order to make sense of our place in the world. I argue that people can engage in actions that function both as coping mechanisms (and may even support the upholding of status quo), and as moments of formulating and enacting agential projects with a more or less intentional transformative purpose. This insight is key to understanding the generative capacity of everyday agency and its importance for the macropolitics of peace and conflict.




Selimovic, J. M. (2019). Everyday agency and transformation: Place, body and story in the divided city. Cooperation and Conflict, 54(2), 131–148. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010836718807510

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