Seeing peace like a city: local visions and diplomatic proposals for future solutions

Lior Lehrs*, Noam Brenner, Nufar Avni, Dan Miodownik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Violently contested cities are at the heart of ethnonational conflicts, and their final status is often a central issue for peace negotiations. These negotiations, typically led by national politicians and diplomats, include little, if any, representation of local voices, which are often fundamentally different from those of state-centric actors. This article integrates the seeing like a city theoretical approach with the literature on urban peacebuilding and asks: How is seeing peace like a city different from seeing peace like a state? and whether the visions of local grassroots leaders are complementary or contradictory to the models that national decision-makers propose for cities. We analyse the case study of Jerusalem using historical analysis, public opinion surveys, and in-depth interviews. Our findings show the distinction between the focus of state-centric processes on ‘rigid’ issues (e.g., security and sovereignty) and the focus of city-centric processes on ‘soft’ issues (e.g., tolerance and daily life).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)425-445
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Jerusalem
  • Violently contested cities
  • mixed methods
  • peace negotiations
  • urban peace
  • ‘local turn’


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