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City and Soul
in Divided Societies




245 interviews in 9 cities of inflammatory nationalistic conflict, research undertaken over 17 year time span, personal narrative, and scholarly insight.


I am weary of writing more about this important topic--how people do or do not get along in urban settings--from an academic distance. That is why I am at this point and why I am writing this different type of book.


Social science academic tradition asserts that you are not supposed to know who I am.


Out in the streets and gathering places of these cities, the intense and continuing drama of the human soul both overwhelms and connects, putting me in my rightful, miniaturized sense of self


See two minute video on Bollens' research focus:



Trajectories of Conflict and Peace:
Jerusalem and Belfast Since 1994

Based on 7 months of extensive field research and over 120 new interviews. Investigates the evolution of these two contentious cities during twenty years of both political stasis and change.


Among the small number of planning scholars who have devoted their scholarly careers to the study of divided cities, Bollens stands out as one of the most dedicated, thoughtful and insightful. Many of Bollens’s conclusions have been embraced by planning theorists and the scholarly peacemaking world.

Diane E. Davis, Harvard University, in JAPR, 30:3, 2013.


Praise for City and Soul

Bollens has boldly produced a postmodern narrative…. concerned with the psychological dimensions of living in these tormented locales… this is a highly personalized account of Bollens’s own reflections… a heart-wrenching book…(of)… self-reflection and soul-searching in divided cities.

Diane E. Davis, Harvard University, in JAPR, 30:3, 2013.



CITY AND SOUL -- 20% Discount Available Online!

Use discount code ERJ78 on Routledge Publishers website ($43.16 with discount)

Author in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1999



In this unique book Scott Bollens combines personal narrative with academic analysis in telling the story of inflammatory nationalistic and ethnic conflict in nine cities – Jerusalem, Beirut, Belfast, Johannesburg, Nicosia, Sarajevo, Mostar, Bilbao, and Barcelona. Reporting on 17 years of research and over 240 interviews with political leaders, planners, architects, community representatives, and academics, he blends personal reflections, reportage from a wealth of original interviews, and presentation of hard data in a multidimensional and interdisciplinary exploration of these urban environments of damage, trauma, healing, and repair.

CITY AND SOUL reveals what it is like living and working in these cities, going inside the head of the researcher. This approach extends the reader’s understanding of these places and connects more intimately with the lived urban experience. Bollens observes that a city disabled by nationalistic strife looks like a callous landscape of securitized space, divisions and wounds, frozen in time and in place. Yet, the soul in these cities perseveres.

Written for general readers and academic specialists alike, City and Soul integrates facts, opinions, photographs, and observations in original ways in order to illuminate the substantial challenges of living in, and governing, polarized and unsettled cities.



PART A: POLARIZED CITIES (interested in reading Part A? -- see below)

1. Introduction

2. Scholarship with an ‘I’

3. Soul in the City: Epic Cultures and Urban Fault‐lines


4. Sarajevo, Bosnia‐Herzegovina ‘Urbicide’ and Dayton

5. Johannesburg, South Africa: ‘Swimming Olympic Style after Years of  Drowning’

6. Belfast, Northern Ireland: A Peace’ Not Envisioned

7. Nicosia, Cyprus: Surmounting Walls, not Politics

8. Basque Country, Spain: Moving From Etxea to Euskal Hiria

9. Mostar, Bosnia‐Herzegovina: The City as War Spoils

10. Barcelona, Spain: An Inclusive Nationalism?

11. Jerusalem, Israel and West Bank: Narrowing the Grounds for Peace

12. Beirut, Lebanon: City in an Indeterminate State, Part I

13. Beirut, Lebanon: City in an Indeterminate State, Part II


14. Comparing Across Conflicts

15. Cities and National Peace


September 2011 | 288 pages | Paperback: 978‐0‐415‐77923‐4



Interested in reading an excerpt from CITY AND SOUL?

Blog on peacebuilding in the city


Scott Bollens is Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California, Irvine, where he holds the Warmington Chair in Peace and International Cooperation. He is author of the books Cities, Nationalism, and Democratization (2007), On Narrow Ground (2000), and Urban Peace-Building in Divided Societies (1999).

Print interview with Bollens 2012
Bollens books and articles on urban conflict 
Healing and dealing with conflict-- Scott on radio

Conflict Healing website--

December 5, 2011 listing (click near bottom of dated entry to hear interview).


Building peace in divided cities-- Scott on video

Building Peace in Divided Cities Presentation

Walls that Divide: Out There and In Here 

Soldier in "pigeon roost", Corniche el Mazraa, Beirut. 2010.

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