Book Launch: Jerusalem In World War I, by Roberto Mazza

Readers in Jerusalem might be interested in attending a talk by our member Roberto Mazza at the Kenyon Institute on 28 October 2015.

Roberto will discuss his book Jerusalem in World War I: the Palestine Diary of a European Consul with noted scholar Salim Tamari, to mark its publication in paperback.

If Jerusalem is less convenient, you can view an earlier talk about the book by Roberto on Youtube.

Jerusalem in World War I presents the diaries of a young diplomat, Antonio de la Cierva y Lewita, better known as Conde de Ballobar, who was sent to Jerusalem to take charge of the city’s Spanish consulate after the break out of World War I. Ballobar recorded the events he witnessed and described his experiences and opinions in a unique document that has become an invaluable resource for historians. His diary provides an unparalleled insight into late Ottoman Jerusalem – and the upheavals of wartime life in the city – and includes a detailed account of the battle amongst the local churches over control of the city’s holy places. Also touching upon the spread of Zionism and the establishment of British rule, Ballobar writes as a privileged observer of an exceptionally complex historical period.

Roberto Mazza earned his PhD from SOAS in 2007, and he has been recently appointed Lecturer in History at the University of Limerick (Ireland). His other publications include Jerusalem from the Ottomans to the British (2009) and a chapter on the Nebi Musa Riots in Urban Violence in the Middle East: Changing Cityscapes in the Transition from Empire to Nation State (2015, U. Freitag, N Fuccaro and C Ghrawi, Eds.).

Salim Tamari is a sociologist senior fellow at Institute for Palestine Studies and former director of the IPS-affiliated Institute of Jerusalem Studies. He is editor of Jerusalem Quarterly and Hawliyyat al Quds, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.  Recent publications include: Year of the Locust: Palestine and Syria during WWI (2010); Ihsan’s War: The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Soldier (2008); and The Mountain Against the Sea (2008).

The launch will take place at the Kenyon Institute, 15 Mount of Olives Road, Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem (Next to the Gallery Cafe), on 28th Oct. 2015, 6.30pm.

A flyer can be downloaded here, and further information is available on the website of the Council for British Research in the Levant.

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British Mandate Jerusalemites Photo Library

sansur

The Sansur Building on Zion Square, one of the busiest triangles in downtown Jerusalem, bordered by Jaffa Road and Ben Yehuda Street.

If you’re interested in Jerusalem’s early twentieth century history and haven’t yet liked British Mandate Jerusalemites Photo Library on Facebook, I highly recommend that you do. The page has been a welcome addition to my newsfeed since I discovered it earlier this year, popping evocative black and white images of a vastly different city from the one we know today in amongst the usual pictures of food, and other people’s cats (ok, I enjoy the cats).

I’ve particularly appreciated it since the start of the summer, when its intriguing photographs have helped to balance out friends’ seemingly endless holiday snaps, which I gaze at enviously while stuck in the library, writing up my thesis…

The page’s author, Mona, is conducting research for a book she hopes to publish about her mother’s life in Jerusalem, through black and white photographs of members of the city’s community during the British Mandate period. She intends to include short essays describing the photographs, as well as their historic significance, and their meaning in her mother’s life. It’s one of the most committed family history projects I’ve seen!

Mona has an essay on photographs of schoolgirls in British Mandate Palestine in a special issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies, which you can read here. You can also read the Editorial by Issam Nassar, another a scholar of photography in this period, on the journal’s website. In her article, Mona describes trying to identify the girls in an album she inherited, and feeling as if she was in a ‘”race against time” to rescue the past from oblivion’.

There are fascinating conversations in the comments beneath photographs, as followers of the page manage – amazingly – to identify the people included, and sometimes, the far-reaching places to which they and their families were scattered after 1948. Some followers of this blog with knowledge of the Mandate period may be able to join in. Others might just like to appreciate the bittersweet images of a lost, and often forgotten, era of Palestine’s history.

Here are a few more pictures from recent posts on the page:

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Helen & Georgette Abusharr, Sumaya & Samira Matar, Adele Hannoun, Aida Mistkawi and Salwa Morcos (whose father owned several hotels in Jerusalem), at the Rosary School in Jerusalem, 1947.

Bread seller on Wad St. in the Old City of Jerusalem, 1939.

Bread seller on Wad St. in the Old City of Jerusalem, 1939.

Katingo Hanania Deeb, with her women friends, preparing to demonstrate by car at the onset of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine, which was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs against British colonial rule, as a demand for independence and opposition to mass Jewish immigration, Jerusalem, 1936.

Katingo Hanania Deeb, with her women friends, preparing to demonstrate by car at the onset of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine, which was a nationalist uprising by Palestinian Arabs against British colonial rule, as a demand for independence and opposition to mass Jewish immigration, Jerusalem, 1936.

A wonderful caption on the above photograph:

‘This photograph speaks a thousand words about these dignified and politically committed women, but it also provides us with a glimpse of their style and sophistication, the way they dressed, the hats, the scarves, the sunglasses. A little gem of a photo that makes me proud to be a Palestinian woman, walking in the footsteps of such giants.

Hannah Boast

Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation, 1917-Present

A new collection, Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation, 1917-present, edited by Lena Jayyusi and published by Interlink, examines the Arab history of the city.

The volume includes contributions from scholars Issam Nassar, Sandy Sufian, and Nadia Abu El-Haj, among others, and covers a wide range of topics, such as broadcasting, music, and colonial medicine.From Jayyusi in the Introduction:

The history of colonization is always the history of suppression of various texts and voices, as well as ways of being, and the reinscription into discourse and narrative of an alternate set of histories that are predicated on that suppression. ‘Absence’ is not merely docile, it is a produced deficit in knowledge, a kind of negative symbolic capital, a weight and value accruing to that which colonizes empty space. The silenced past needs to speak. The silenced past needs also to be reconnected with the vocal present, in order to speak fully and to play a critical role in subverting the silences planned in the present and the further transformations these silences would enable.

It looks like a fascinating book and there are certainly a few chapters I’ve bookmarked as ‘to read’.

Jerusalem Interrupted forms part of a small but growing field of studies on the city focusing on Arab culture and society in the Ottoman and Mandate periods, often relying on archives such as Islamic court documents, municipal council records, and family papers to reconstruct the details of everyday life.

This new collection sits alongside works by writers including Salim Tamari and most recently, Menachem Klein (whose book was reviewed here by British-Palestinian novelist Selma Dabbagh), as well as the work of Imagining Jerusalem network members Roberto Mazza and Jacob Norris.

Thanks to Roberto Mazza for drawing our attention to this book on Twitter.

Hannah Boast

Vincent Lemire and Jerusalem’s ‘age des possibles’

lemireBy Claire Gallien

French historian Vincent Lemire, well-known for his work on hydropolitics in Jerusalem, published  a book last year on the history of Jerusalem in the late Ottoman period (1860-1930). The book entitled, Jérusalem, 1900. La Ville sainte à l’age des possibles, has lately been reviewed on the French website ‘La Vie des Idées’ by Dominique Trimbur.

The book ties up with the secondary literature on archiving Jerusalem and Ottoman Palestinian life, which we read for our first workshop. The review also has a note with recent historiography on Jerusalem published in English, including the works of David Kushner, Roberto Mazza, Michelle Campos, Abigail Jacobson, Tom Segev, and Henry Laurens.

Most importantly, as highlighted in Trimbur’s review, the book provides new perspectives on a history of the city ‘from below’ and questions slanted views regarding the various Jerusalemite communities and the relations between local and central authority in the late Ottoman period.

I have put together a very brief summary in English of the review’s most salient points. Continue reading