in: Urban Geography 36 (4), 624-625
Preserving the Old City of Damascus deals with urban change in the Syrian capital prior to the country’s civil war. Drawing on a wealth of original research, Faedah Totah sheds light on social interactions and power relations that emerged in the context of heritage preservation in Damascene intramural neighborhoods. The ethnography is structured in two parts: the first part mirrors how actors perceive the historic center as a site of contestation between “civilization” and “backwardness,” and the second examines how the preservation of Old Damascus contributed to the reinterpretation and renegotiation of social discourses regarding the “civilization”–“backwardness” binary in the context of heritage preservation and gentrification. Finally, in the epilogue, the author discusses the future of the old city in light of the civil war.