The vertical turn in urban scholarship is a critique of the overly horizontal perspectives used in studying cities in academic research. This article broadens this scholarship by engaging with the ways that horizontal perspectives on urban conditions dominate not only scholarly perspectives but also professional responses to urban change. By drawing on research in the divided city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it argues for a ‘polyvocal’ approach to studying professional responses to urban conditions, one that facilitates a productive juxtaposition of those responses with city dwellers’ everyday engagements with the vertical qualities of the built environment. It also seeks to understand how vertical geographies—here, tall landmarks—in divided cities are seen as part of the complex urban realities of city dwellers in strategies of urban planning and heritage-making related to postwar reconciliation. These findings are compared with ethnographic data about how people make sense of tall landmarks in divided cities and how they experience and interpret them in relation to senses of togetherness and belonging to divided cities. By putting these two lines of research in a dialogue, the ‘polyvocal’ approach offers a way to rethink conventional strategies of urban reconciliation and taken-for-granted ways of conceptualizing cities.
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