Governing polarized cities
, collectivités locales, gouvernance, ségrégation urbaine, conflit urbain, politique de la ville, Bollens Scott, Brussels, Bruxelles, Johannesburg, Belfast, Sarajevo, Jerusalem, Jérusalem, Baghdad, Bagdad, Kirkuk, Kirkouk
This article provides a comparative analysis of different institutional approaches to dealing with antagonistic group identity claims on the city. I discuss Brussels, Johannesburg, Belfast, Sarajevo, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Kirkuk. These cities are broken down into three categories—(1) cities that have utilized power sharing and forms of transitional democratization effectively enough that stability of the local and national state has occurred, (2) cities that have made some progress but are vulnerable to regression because local political arrangements are not sufficiently stabilizing, and (3) cities where power sharing is itself contested and a potential contributor to further instability. The case studies of local governance of polarized cites reported point to their institutional diversity, frequent fragility, and the evolutionary nature of even the “best case” examples. A difficult predicament is faced by local government reform in cities of inter-group conflict. Shared local governance arrangements need to produce measurable differences on the ground in the short term sufficient to allow institutional legitimacy. Yet, necessary power-sharing limitations on local democracy may make local government less effective in producing these needed tangible changes.
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