An historical perspective on the viability of urban diversity: lessons from socio-spatial identity construction in nineteenth-century Algiers and Cape Town

Social heterogeneity is fundamental to many conceptions of urbanism. Social contact in diverse cities is valorized by theorists linking pluralism with social justice, democratic functioning and the psychological development of tolerance. Others express caution, noting that conflict and instability are equally possible outcomes of intergroup contact. This paper argues that these ongoing debates can be informed by longer-term, cross-cultural perspectives on urbanism.