A photographic mapping workshop with teenagers at the Arab-Jewish Community Centre, Jaffa 2012

 

The relationship of teenagers with their built and social environment was the subject of mutual interest between myself and the researchers from the university of Duisburg-Essen.  By creating a similar framework to research this subject, Powercells 100 enabled to reveal similarities and differences between these relationships of teenagers from Israel and Germany. The supervisors of the project in Germany were Verena Moron and Carina Hommel form university of Duisburg-Essen . This framework, developed and executed by the German and Israeli team also generated awareness to injustices, empowered the teenagers in many ways, and gave them a sense of place and responsibility to this place.

 

The main aim of this project was to map Jaffa from the eyes of teenagers. The map was supposed to show the everyday places the participating teenagers liked / were proud of and were interested in presenting. There were about 20 Arab/Palestinian children in the group, aged 12-13, from middle class families who live in the south and south east of Jaffa city about 15 minutes from the town centre and the old city.

 

The basic assumption was that the teenagers would choose places in their locality and from their daily lives: around their homes (the local street, the nearby park, the beach and other places where they gathered) and everyday life scenes. Surprisingly the teenagers opted to choose the more touristy sites of the city, the big monuments, the historical sites etc and not “everyday life” places.

 

There could be several explanations as to why they chose these places. One could be that these sites play a great part in their ethnic, religious and national identity (as Palestinians, Muslims and Christian etc.). As a minority group who is struggling to maintain its identity and its pride, this is understandable. Moreover, since most of their everyday environment (street, parks, buildings) is saturated with Zionist symbols and  the Hebrew language, there could be an estrangement and distance created between the kids and the environment and thus they choose sites that specifically relate to their religion or to pre 1948 (Palestinian) sites.

 

Since the prevalent view was that the children’s map was pretty much the same as the tourist maps, we didn’t end up with the creation of “a new map”. Instead, the project presents a series of photographs that were taken during tours of the children’s neighborhoods, as well as in the historical centre of town (pre 1948 and the old city). Rather than showing a division between these various sites, we focused on the details within each environment so the viewpoint is sharper yet less descriptive.  In a way the project changed from being mainly critical to being more dialogical.

The project was exhibited in 2012 at the Sport & Youth Museum, Cologne, Germany

 

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