Jacob Norris is Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Sussex. He was previously Research Fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge, after completing his PhD at Cambridge in 2010. Jacob’s current research looks at the history of Bethlehem through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In that period Bethlehem was one of the world’s most globally connected trading towns. In the 19th century in particular, merchants from Bethlehem established themselves in all corners of the globe, acting as the “pioneers” of a much wider movement of Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians away from the Ottoman Empire. Key to these movements were the unique “Holy Land” devotional goods crafted in Bethlehem from mother-of-pearl and olive wood.
Jacob’s publications include the monograph, Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development, 1905-1948, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. He has also published recent articles on Bethlehem in the Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, Jerusalem Quarterly, History Today and The British Museum Technical Bulletin. He is currently preparing a monograph on Bethlehem, provisionally titled Bethlehem: the Global Story of a Little Town.