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The traditional Muslim city: portrait and approaches

Nikola A Venkov 
Ключови думи
социология на града, изследвания на исляма и Близкия изток
Western scientific interest in the characteristics of Muslim urbanism dates back to the 1920s. A unified model for the so-called "Islamic city" was developed in the context of colonial science. It was later heavily criticised and by the 1970s authors were actively breaking away from the academic consensus and pursuing a plethora of research avenues. The article sketches this development and provides an introduction to the Western colonial and post-colonial research on Muslim cities. It reviews a number of case studies and analytical texts, placing special focus on the epistemological debate how are we to go about theorising the Muslim urban form and social texture. The studies reviewed are mostly situated in North Africa and Greater Syria and span the entire Muslim history from the 6th century up to the early 19th century. The selection of case studies was designed to represent a maximum variety of research paradigms and approaches. Setting the latter in dialogue with each other is meant to show that there can be no one best model or theory for the Muslim city. However, I believe there is best research practices which I outline in the conclusions. I am optimistic that these may help to re-conceptualise and reinvigorate the notion of the Islamic city.

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