Jerusalems: Memory, Heritage, Imagination


Huntington Room, King’s Manor, University of York, UK

Thursday 1st September

Download the Detailed Programme here

Join us for a series of short talks exploring the contested heritage of Jerusalem, its place on the global stage, and its real and virtual futures. Topics include the campaign to preserve the City’s cultural heritage, how Pokémon Go is remapping Jerusalem, and the city as viewed through the eyes of Palestinian poet laureates.  Curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art will offer a dazzling preview of the forthcoming Exhibition, ‘Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven’.

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion which asks how we might use the knowledge shared by our research community to imagine new futures, both for Jerusalem itself and for the idea of Jerusalem in public life.

The event is open to the public, and free of charge. All are very welcome to attend for the whole afternoon and evening, or for part of the discussions.

For further details, please contact Helen Smith (


2.30     Welcome

2.45-3.45          Session 1

Helen Smith, ‘Imagining Jerusalem’

Fabio Cristiano, ‘Pokémon Go’s Diminished Reality in East Jerusalem’

Anthony Bale, ‘Mount Joy and Jerusalem: Past, Present, Future’


4.00-5.00          Session 2

Gregor Lersch, ‘A Trip to Jerusalem, a Streetcar Named Desire and … ??” Thoughts Towards an Exhibition in the Jewish Museum, Berlin

Nora Parr, ‘“In Jerusalem” with two Generations of Palestinian Poet Laureates’

Maryvelma O’Neil, ‘Universal Cultural Heritage in Jerusalem: Death by a Thousand Cuts?’


5.15-5.50 ‘Every People Under Heaven’

Barbara Boehm & Melanie Holcomb, A Preview of the Forthcoming Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


6.00-7.00 Panel Discussion, including questions from the audience

Refreshments will be served at 3.45, 5.00, and 5.50

Forthcoming conference: Spatial Articulations of Collective Identities in the Context of Middle Eastern Cities


Friday 23rd September 2016, 9:00-19:00
Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

This one-day symposium will attempt to discover themes of identification as an ongoing and changing process rather than identity as a rigid social construct embodied in the form of physical representations. Ideas of identity will be explored in terms of a search for the self, a reconstruction of a long lost collective sense of being, or a reconciliation between the cherished past, the intrusions of the present, and the unknown future.

For details, please see the symposium website.

CFP – From Comparative to Global History

Cromohs – Cyber Review of Modern Historiography is seeking submissions for an issue on the theme ‘From Comparative to Global History: Assessing Relational Approaches to the Past (1400-1900)’.

The editors ask contributors to consider the trajectory of recent scholarship:

It has been pointed out … that all too often the history of the world, especially when it is based to a large degree on (mostly English) secondary literature, has ended up being fashioned into a flat narrative of “the rise of the West and the Westernization of the rest.” For Sanjay Subrahmanyam, an alternative to the “grand narrative of modernization” would be for historians not simply to adopt a different scale, but to take a step sideways, finding a different vantage point and employing a decentring technique to identify previously hidden or unseen connections among places and cultures.

More recent comparative endeavours have seen scholars engaging more and more with what Serge Gruzinski has described as the “alchemy of hybridization,” and the “intensity of circulation … that reveals mixed landscapes”. Entangled histories (Espagne, Kocka, Werner, Zimmermann) have explored “mutual influencing,” “reciprocal or asymmetric perceptions,” and the intertwined “processes of constituting one another.”

For further details, and to download the full call, please visit the Cromohs website.

Jerusalems: memory, heritage, imagination


arcWe are delighted to be welcoming Barbara Boehm and Melanie Holcomb (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Margaret Kampmeyer (Jewish Museum, Berlin) to a wrap-up event for the ‘Imagining Jerusalem’ network, which will take place in York on 31st August and 1st September, and will consider the relationships between academic research, the heritage sector, popular history, and the politics of history and memory.  All are warmly welcome to attend.

The funding for the ‘Imagining Jerusalem’ network will soon be coming to an end. Over the past two years, it has been a privilege to bring together a group of international scholars, whose insights — across disciplines, and across time periods — have greatly enriched our understanding of the forms Jerusalem has taken in the collective, and in the individual, imagination. At the same time, our collaborations have thrown up significant divergences of approach and methodology, as well as differences of opinion relating to the place of politics in the historical study of this perenially-divided city.

Our August meeting will explore Jerusalem’s complex global heritage, asking how we might use the knowledge shared by our research community to imagine new futures, both for Jerusalem itself and for the idea of Jerusalem in public life. Though this is a closing event for the network in its current form, we anticipate that it will be the beginning of new forms of collaboration, bringing together network members with new audiences and constituencies.

More details will be posted soon; in the meantime, please email with expressions of interest.

The Great Cyclorama of Jerusalem


— post by Helen Smith

Soon after we received news that we had been successful in our bid for network funding, I told a friend I was about to spend a few days in Quebec. ‘You must see the Jerusalem cyclorama!‘, he said.

Tucked away in the tiny town of St-Anne-de-Beaupré is a striking round building, home to a vast perspectival representation of the crucifixion. 14 metres high, and 110 metres in circumference, the ‘cyclorama’ is viewed from a small central platform, as a spectral voice guides you, step by step through the landscape of the Holy City.

Though the guidebook boasts that ‘Cyclorama creates an illusion of life … so real that it gives visitors the feeling that they are themselves in Jerusalem’, the truth – at least for those living in an age of 3-D cinema – is less compelling, though the intricate detail of the painting is still remarkable.

How did the Cyclorama end up in rural Canada? It was made in Munich between 1878 and 1882. The painter, Her Bruno Piglhein was so determined to achieve an absolute realism that – along with two companions – he spent a year in Jerusalem, taking photographs and studying the history of the city. His aim was to educate an ignorant public on biblical history, including details of dress, customs, and the surrounding countryside.

In trying to locate the scenes of the crucifixion within the places of Jersualem, Piglheim and his associates were following in the long tradition of Geographia sacra, or sacred geography, which flourished during the late-sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Cartographers and biblical scholars worked hard to map biblical events onto the landscape of the Middle East, sometimes struggling to resolve obvious discrepancies between the biblical text and the physical features of the countryside (the abundant fertility of Jerusalem was one such trope).

The panorama was an exceptionally popular form. Conceived by Robert Barker in 1787, as he walked in the hills overlooking Edinburgh, panoramas were supposed to immerse the viewer completely in the scene, blurring the line between art and reality. Barker and his son created the first 360-degree panorama – a view of London – in a rotunda in Leicester Square.

Over time, the subjects of panoramas transformed, changing from sublime landscapes to military battles and biblical scenes. During and after the Napoleonic wars, panoramas displayed the victories and defeats of the Emperor. As his leading artist, Piglhein chose Paul Philippoteaux, already famous for his panoramic depictions of the Siege of Paris, the Battle of Gettysburg, and – perhaps most famously – the Battle of Waterloo.

The Cyclorama went on tour, displayed in the capital cities of Europe before it was taken to Montreal. In 1895, with the popularity of the panorama in decline, it was given its permanent home, near the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré.

Though the Cyclorama was designed to both immerse and educate visitors, it is clear that the ‘historic’ costumes and scenes bear the hallmarks of late nineteenth-century taste, and many visitors went to marvel at least as much at the size and technical achievement of the painting as to learn the story it told.

On a late September day in 2013, the Cyclorama was very quiet. It stands now opposite a car park, and the interior lacks the vivid freshness it must once have possessed. Its reviews on TripAdvisor are mixed, though one of the happier visitors records that ‘My wife and myself visited Jerusalem in Jul 2015’ – a momentary collapse of the city and its representation that would have made Piglheim proud!

Where the Cyclorama was once applauded as a compelling, immersive landscape, it stands now as a souvenir of the great age of the panorama, and the democratisation (in part, at least) of the great sites and scenes of the world and its history. It stands as a compelling reminder of the shifting priorities of heritage, commemoration, and display – now less a record of the biblical scenes and more a reminder of the competitive history and technical challenges of three-dimensional display.

Tracing the Jerusalem Code: The Significance of Jerusalem in Western Christianity


An international conference organised by colleagues in Oslo, including network member Kristin B. Aavitsland:

Tracing the Jerusalem Code: The Significance of Jerusalem in Western Christianity

Oslo, MF School of Theology, Gydas vei 4, 0302 Oslo

December 9-11 2015

Throughout the entire Christian history, the idea of Jerusalem, earthly and celestial, has been formative to the Christian Church and produced a fundamental structure of literary and visual religious language. In Western Christianity, this topos has been so influential that it may be described as a code to Christian culture. A new research project hosted by MF Norwegian School of Theology aims to explore the structuring significance of Jerusalem in Scandinavian history. Through a creative, interdisciplinary and cross-­‐period investigation of literal and visual sources and with the changing idea of Jerusalem as a lens, we want to develop new theoretical perspectives on the history of Christianity in Scandinavia. In order to posit the Scandinavian case, we have invited international scholars to a broader exploration of the formative impact of Jerusalem on identity constructions and legitimation strategies in diverse religious and political traditions.

Register for the conference by contacting Joar.Haga[at]

The registration fee includes conference materials, coffee, tea and snacks.

Price including all meals: NOK 2000,-

Price without meals: NOK 300,-

Download the conference programme.

Visit the research network homepage.