The Critical Arabic Urban Lexicon (CAUL) is part of a wider project of knowledge dissemination developed by CLUSTER to interrogate the discursive gap between the Middle East and North Africa and the centers of knowledge production in the ‘First World.’ CAUL aims to address the interdisciplinary nature of urban studies and the proliferation of borrowed terms from social sciences and humanities, including political science, geography, and cultural studies.
CAUL includes a working glossary of terms relevant to the context and urban transformations of the Arabic speaking world. Terms such as spatial practice, territoriality, and gentrification are but a few examples of concepts which have been masked by an asymmetry within standard translations in the Arabic language and which consequently perpetuate urban inequalities through public discourse. Further, CAUL critically engages the regional variations of key terms in different translation traditions exploring the Levantine, Egyptian, and North African versions of the same term (i.e. public space, urbanism). In doing so, CAUL attempts to contest prevalent mainstream media and official discourses, including pejorative terms such as slums, squatters, ‘ashwa’iyat, by offering and thus legitimating, alternative definitions.