Remembering Jerusalem: A Thank You

6155915890_3c19ae9f8e_zThank you to everyone who joined us at Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City, whether speaking or presenting. We are grateful to all of you for engaging with the cross-period, interdisciplinary spirit of the network so enthusiastically in your papers and discussions, and hope that you found the conference as useful and enjoyable an experience as we did.

We want to extend particular gratitude to our keynote speakers, Prof Anthony Bale, Prof Nabil Matar, and Prof Eyal Weizman, for delivering such rich and wide-ranging lectures. Their talks introduced themes that resonated through our conversations over the two days, and provided wonderful examples of the kinds of comparative scholarship that we hope to encourage as a network.

We are also grateful to Ilana Tahan and her fellow curators at the British Library, for sharing with us a number of fascinating items from the Library’s collection relating to Jerusalem, and to Cathy Collins of the Endangered Archives Programme, for telling us about the Programme’s important preservation and digitisation projects in Israel/Palestine and the wider Middle East.

One of the aims of the network is simply to draw together scholars working across disciplines and periods in relation to the rich history, culture, and politics of Jerusalem. With this in mind, if you would like to add a brief description of your research to the project pages at jerusalems.wordpress.com, please do feel free to send this on.

We are also developing a couple of ideas in relation to publication, and would particularly appreciate your feedback on the question of which papers and panels you found most stimulating, and the ways in which cross-period scholarship in particular might offer a challenge to existing scholarly fields. Is the act of talking across periods already an exciting development, or do we need to think about what a genuinely inter- or intra-period study might look like (which might perhaps resist straightforward chronology)?

Beyond these specific developments, we would be delighted to hear from you with any suggestions for future collaborations or ways to move the network forward. Our AHRC funding concludes next year, and one of the questions we are currently considering is whether it would be a good idea to pursue further, larger research grants. If you are interested in being part of these discussions, please do get in contact either with individual project members, or with the group as a whole.

3,000 photos of Middle East from 1867-1914 now online

Stereoscopic view of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem.

Stereoscopic view of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem.

The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has recently digitised 3,000 photographs of the Middle East from the Maison Bonfils collection, dating from 1867-1914.

The collection includes many images of Jerusalem and Palestine, including the photograph of Al-Aqsa Mosque featured above.

As the project overview explains, these photographs are a small selection from a vast archive of 40,000 photographs produced by the French Bonfils family, who in 1867 established the first photographic studio in Beirut, which they named ‘Maison Bonfils’.

The archive is currently under threat, given that it is not housed in an institution which will secure its future, while its contents are not catalogued, and difficult to navigate.

The creation of a database of the photographs by the EAP will provide a useful resource for scholars, while preserving this valuable heritage from the Ottoman Middle East. It’s also a fascinating archive to browse through, for a glimpse of a familiar region at a very different time.

Via Cathy Collins of the EAP, on Twitter.

British Library digitises 45 Hebrew manuscripts

The Golden Haggadah. Miriam and her maidens rejoicing (top right); distribution of haroset ('sweet meats') by the master of the house (top left); preparations for Passover (lower right and left). BL MS Add. 27210, f. 15r.

The British Library has recently announced the successful digitisation of 45 Hebrew manuscripts, including the London Codex, one of the oldest surviving Hebrew Bibles, and the Golden Haggadah, a richly illustrated account of the Passover story that originated in medieval Spain.

These manuscripts are just the first of 1250 from the Library’s extensive Hebrew Manuscript collection which will be digitised over the course of a three-year project which began last summer, funded by a grant from the Polonsky Foundation.

Read more – and view more images from the manuscripts – on the British Library Asian and African Studies blog.