The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Rasha Assaf

Nationality: Israeli/Palestinian
Thesis: Contested Space and Cultural Heritage in World Heritage Cities.
Key Topics: Contested cities. Contested Cultural Heritage, World Cultural Heritage, Palestinian Minority in Israel.


I’m interested in exploring the shift towards neoliberal privatisation policies and global cultural heritage standards currently taking place in contested historical cities which have been designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The research will examine the impact of these policy shifts on spatial and social control in an existing ethnonational structure, and on the relationship between Palestinian identity and heritage construction. I will adopt a qualitative research approach, and an instrumental case study method.

The research provides a unique framework for integrating my academic and practical backgrounds in Law, Political Science, and Cultural Heritage. As a lawyer, I principally practiced community law, working with NGOs dealing with civil/social rights and with housing rights. Much of my professional experience was acquired in the field of human rights law, especially on the fault line of contested urban spaces. More recently, I have also been involved in entrepreneurship, specifically the management of a cultural heritage project in Northern Israel. 

My research seeks to explore possibilities for a more just approach to cultural heritage presentation and equitable urban space distribution for all inhabitants of such sites, irrespective of the ethnic, religious or cultural identities of the inhabitants of the city.

In my spare time, I enjoy sports, dancing, painting and pottery. I am an 'access bars' facilitator, transcendental meditator, and mindfulness practitioner.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Haim Yacobi
Secondary Supervisor: Prof. Michael Rowlands

Memberships: The Israeli Bar Association, the Israeli Political Science Association (ISPSA), the Israeli Chess Federation.

Languages: Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

Certificates: M.A in Political science; LL.M in Law, B.A in Law.