(The soul of places and Modernity. Urban transformations in Mecca in Ṭawq al-ḥamām, by Raǧā’ ‘Ālim)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. VIII, n. 16, dicembre 2018, pp. 19-44.
In Ṭawq al-ḥamām, Raǧā’ ‘Ālim describes the transformations that have taken place during the last decades in the urban setting of her hometown, Makka. Several urban redevelopment plans launched by the authorities have radically changed the city’s landscape and Makka’s skyline has become increasingly similar to that of an American city. During these operations, the extraordinary artistic and religious heritage of Makka, the most sacred city of Islam, has been destroyed, and the unique identity of these places altered forever. The destruction of historic sites has also involved the transformation of traditional economic, social and cultural scenarios. Through the characters of the novel, who move in an urban setting in constant transformation, Raǧā’ ‘Ālim analyses how the change of the urban scene, the loss of monuments and familiar places has irremediably modified the collective memory of the Meccans, undermining also their individual identity.
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