How do we map ‘invisible’ cities, and put the lived experiences of the residents at the heart?: Interview with Aicha el-Beloui

Our neighbourhoods are the centre of our universes and how they are perceived by us and others has tangible, life-changing consequences. Aicha el-Beloui is a Casablanca-based illustrator, graphic designer, and creative director who builds maps that put residents’ lived experiences at their heart. They confront toxic clouds of prejudice head-on, and play with a map’s innate abstraction through the use of the surreal. Ahead of the unveiling of her new work, MO(VE)MENTS, a map and travelling art installation that explores the multitude of stories behind the Moroccan presence in the UK, Skin Deep’s Courtney Yusuf caught up with Aicha to chat about the emotional power of our neighbourhoods, the political danger of phone addiction, and the enduring myth of Casablanca.

'Here, you fight for your life': how reggae brought hope to Naples

In the shadow of Vesuvius and under the blazing Mediterranean sun sits a labyrinth of cobbles, zipping scooters, shouting neighbours and stone buildings plastered with posters. Amid the streets of one of Europe’s most densely populated cities is one of its most vibrant reggae scenes, with 10 sound systems throwing bass-filled parties each week. “There is no hostility in the scene,” explains Brian D’Aquino of Bababoom Hi Fi Sound System. “We have all known each other for years, live with each other, let each other borrow amplifiers or whatever. Plus there’s no money, which probably helps.”

Skin Deep meets Marwa al-Sabouni: 17 January '18

Marwa al-Sabouni is a Syrian architect and the author of The Battle for Home (2016). In the book, Marwa charts how recent architectural and urban planning practices contributed to the collapse of the social fabric in Syria. In the face of massive reconstruction efforts that have already begun, Marwa also promotes a craft-based approach to construction that embraces the wisdom of earlier practices and designs, and the social interactions that they fostered.

Power-Play in Palestine: The Controversial Return of Mohammad Dahlan - 27th August '17

With the gates of Gaza purportedly set to open after ten years of brutal isolation, Palestinian politics is entering unchartered waters. Following the rise to power of the Islamist-nationalist party Hamas, a decade has now passed since the coastal territory broke away from the the internationally-recognised, quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority (PA). For Gaza, those ten years outside of the Authority have been far from easy, with closed borders and three devastating wars with Israel putting

MAKOKO FLOATS AHEAD: 22nd September '16

Many a Lagos summer has begun with the crack and shatter of a thunderstorm. But one heavy downpour in June of this year left a particularly destructive trail in its wake. The storm left behind the ruins of Whanyinna Primary, an innovative floating school that had brought the world’s attention to the Makoko settlement of Lagos lagoon. This collapse is unfortunately just the latest indignity suffered by the riverine community over the last decade.
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