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

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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]mf.no

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.

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.

Conference Announcement: The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem, 20-21 March, York

vtj Conference Poster-page-001A conference announcement from colleagues at York:

Registration is now open for the ERC-funded ‘The Politics of Visual Translations of Jerusalem’ conference, to be held in York from 20th-21st March 2015.

Further details can be found on the project homepage.

Registration takes place via York’s Online Store, following the History of Art tab.

The poster can be downloaded here, and the programme is available here. These, along with details of keynote lectures, can also be downloaded from the conference website.

BBC drama ‘The Honourable Woman’ screens on Israeli TV

I blogged about Hugo Blick’s BBC drama The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, here, when it screened in the UK last year.

Personally, I enjoyed the series for its pace, style, and complex female characters, even if I found it ultimately unenlightening on questions of Middle East politics, and was less than impressed by its uniformly negative representations of Palestinians.

That review is here.

Since then, the series has been widely exported around the world (perhaps notably, the press release doesn’t list sales to any Arab countries) and is about to be shown on Israeli television.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published a pre-review of the series, and it’s interesting to read a perspective on Blick’s drama ‘from the eye of the storm’, as the reviewer, Michael Handelzalts, puts it.

The review includes a fascinating biographical tidbit about the Israeli actor Yigal Naor, who plays the shrewd but kindly character Shlomo. Apparently, Naor previously played Saddam Hussein in a BBC drama called House of Saddam (which I’ve not seen).

The casting of an Israeli actor as Iraq’s former dictator seems telling about the attitudes of BBC producers, and western audiences, towards the Middle East. While I wouldn’t deny that an actor can play outside their nationality – the ability to inhabit different roles is, after all, the basis of acting – this casting suggests that Middle Eastern ‘appearances’, accents, and cultures are viewed in the west as essentially interchangeable.

You can read Haaretz‘s take on The Honourable Woman here.

Hannah Boast, Network Coordinator.

Bianca Kühnel: Jerusalem’s Imprint on the European Visual Memory, University of York, 11-12 November 2014

Eichstätt_IMG_1643You are invited to a public lecture and graduate seminar at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, as part of the York Medieval Centre Series:

Jerusalem’s Imprint on the European Visual Memory

Bianca Kühnel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The lecture is an attempt to classify the manifold representations of Jerusalem in Christian medieval art and architecture, aiming to emphasize the turning points in their history. The dependence on one model, on one hand, and the broad geographical and historical distribution, on the other, have produced a unique artistic phenomenon that has yet to be deciphered in its complexity. The lecture will map some of the most representative Jerusalem sites in Europe in connection with the respective historical and political conditions of their foundation. The seminar will concentrate on a few test cases, asking if and how the local, particularistic features fit (or not) into the European network of Jerusalem representations.

Public Lecture, Tuesday 11 November 2014, 5.30pm, King’s Manor, K/133.

Graduate Seminar, Wednesday 12 November, 11.15am, King’s Manor, K/159.

The lecture is free and open to all. For the graduate seminar students should register their interest in attending by e-mailing Brittany Scowcroft (brittany.scowcroft@york.ac.uk).

Download the poster here.

Filming Israel/Palestine: The Honourable Woman

Hugo Blick’s The Honourable Woman (BBC2), starring Maggie Gyllenhaal as the would-be peacemaking heir to an Israeli family’s arms fortune, is a rare example of British TV taking on one of the riskiest subjects for a weeknight drama: the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I say risky, because Israeli and Palestinian history and politics aren’t subjects that are familiar to British audiences, and which will produce reliably high viewing figures – they’re not Nordic Noir, or The Great British Bake Off.

Israel/Palestine is also perhaps the archetypal topic on which venturing a comment can lead to frenzied justifications, backtracking, and speedy regrets, as reporters and many celebrities found during in a summer which saw Israel launch devastating attacks on the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. In a way, it’s surprising that The Honourable Woman made it onto our screens this summer at all, and wasn’t held back for a less volatile time – although perhaps someone made the calculation that it’s a show which might benefit from being topical (as it did).

Beyond news programmes, Peter Kosminsky’s Channel 4 drama The Promise (2011) has been the only recent UK programme to take on Israel/Palestine (although see our member Anna Bernard’s 2012 article ‘Consuming Palestine’ for a survey of Israel/Palestine in British theatre and American popular culture, where it’s more prominent).

So, while The Honourable Woman isn’t about our topic of Jerusalem as such, it’s worth thinking more about how it represented Israelis, Palestinians, and the conflict, given its level of influence, which will have been extended by viewers seeking deeper explanations for the recent increase in tension (and, I’d less charitably suggest, hoping to look clever in the pub).

Continue reading

Professor Nabil Matar added as keynote speaker at ‘Remembering Jerusalem’ conference

We are delighted to announce that Professor Nabil Matar, of the University of Minnesota, will join us at ‘Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City’ on 6-7 November, to deliver a keynote lecture.

Professor Matar is renowned for his research on relations between early modern Britain, Western Europe, and the Islamic Mediterranean. His many book projects include the recently published British Captives in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic: 1563-1760 (Brill, Leiden, 2014), Through the Eyes of the Beholder: The Holy Land, 1517-1713 (Brill, Leiden, 2013),  with Judy Hayden, and a forthcoming abridged, translated and introduced edition of An Arab Ambassador in the Mediterranean: Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Miknasi, 1779-1788 (Routledge, 2015).

In recognition of his “pioneering scholarship on the relationship between Islamic civilisation and early modern Europe,” Professor Matar was given the Building Bridges award at the University of Cambridge in 2012.

Professor Matar’s lecture will be entitled “Sufi Jerusalem in Arabic Pilgrimage Accounts, 13th-18th Centuries”. We will share more details in an abstract in the near future, and are very much looking forward to welcoming Professor Matar to King’s College London.

CFP: ‘Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City’, London, 6-7 Nov. 2014

Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City
6th-7th November
King’s College London

Organised by the AHRC-Funded Research Network ‘Imagining Jerusalem, 1099 to the Present Day’

Keynote speakers: Professor Anthony Bale (Birkbeck), Professor Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths).

Further keynotes TBA.

Perhaps the world’s most iconic city, Jerusalem exists both as a physical space and as a site of memory, ideas, and re-memberings. In art, literature, film, and history writing; in acts of public and private worship; and in communities across the globe, memories of Jerusalem have, for centuries, been created, invoked, and relived. This cross-period, interdisciplinary conference invites paper and panel submissions on the theme of Jerusalem and Memory, c. 1099 to the Present Day. Topics may include, but need not be limited to:

– techniques of memorialisation / techniques of memory
– place, space, and memory
– souvenirs, mementoes, and memory aids
– the materiality (or immateriality) of memory
– memory and sensation
– memory, land and environment
– memory and warfare
– memory and governance
– forgetting, false memory, and fictional remembering
– narrative and memory
– memory and the archive
– national, local, and transnational memories
– memory and community
– ethnography as remembering
– ritual, repetition, and performance
– sacred and secular memory

The organisers are particularly keen to receive panel submissions which address a shared theme across more than one discipline and/or historical period.

Abstracts of c. 300 words for single papers and c. 1000 words for panels consisting of three papers should be sent to imagining-jerusalem@york.ac.uk by 1st July 2014. For more details or inquiries, please contact the same address or visit the Network website: https://jerusalems.wordpress.com/

This conference is organised by the lead members of the Network: Dr Anna Bernard (KCL), Dr Michele Campopiano (York), Dr Helen Smith (York), Dr Jim Watt (York), and the Network Coordinator, Hannah Boast (York).

Download the Call for Papers.

Jerusalem as Occidentalist cityscape in twelfth-century Bologna

 

Professor Anthony Bale, Birkbeck, University of London

Cross-posted from ‘Remembered Places’.

Many medieval copies of Jerusalem function at the level of metonymy: a part suggests the whole, a symbol evokes a distant and holy world. Sometimes a polygonal or round building or some crenelated battlements function as a shorthand reference to Jerusalem. Sometimes it was simply the Easter Sepulchre placed in church which once a year became the Jerusalem of Jesus’s death and resurrection. However, in the Italian city of Bologna, a remarkable landscape was crafted in which the urban fabric was Jerusalem, not only on a symbolic level but as lived, familiar space. The beautiful Nuova Gerusalemme at the church of Santo Stefano in Bologna has been much altered since its twelfth-century heyday, but it can still be visited and its Jerusalem-ish landscape appreciated.

Readers who want to know more about the historical and liturgical background of the Bologna site are referred to Robert Ousterhout’s 1980 article, from which much of my information is taken. I visited the site last week and in this post I share some of the thoughts I had about it.

The complex of churches existed since at least the sixth century and probably somewhat earlier, built over a Roman temple of Isis. At the centre was a round church dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre. In the twelfth century – in fact, within sixty years of the First Crusade of 1099, when the Crusaders successfully took Jerusalem – the chapels in Bologna were redesigned to ‘resemble’ Jerusalem. The San Sepulcro chapel (pictured above), with its distinctive ‘circular’ (polygonal) shape, was built c. 1100-1140 and continues to recall the main rotunda of the Anastasis at the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Twelve columns (suggesting the deep significance of the number twelve: the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Twelve Apostles, etc.) are arranged around a copy of the medieval ‘aedicule’, the small tabernacle or booth at the site of Christ’s empty grave (pictured below). The exterior brickwork has further polychromatic polygonal designs in it, suggesting other mnemonic devices to recall the patterns and symbolism of the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem.

As well as the aedicule, within this round church there remains a medieval copy, in similitudine, of the column on which Jesus was scourged (pictured below), akin to the twenty-first century whipping post at the Holy Land park in Florida. The building reproduces the atmosphere and main sites of the Holy Sepulchre; it shows clearly how, at a period in which thousands of Crusaders were travelling to Palestine, their ideas, knowledge, and religious culture was also travelling back to Europe.

One passes through the round church to Cortile di Pilato, a courtyard associated from the later Middle Ages with Pontius Pilate containing an ancient well (in the first picture, above), recalling Pilate’s washing of his hands (Matthew 27). Off the courtyard once stood various other small chapels recalling biblical and quasi-biblical episodes of the Passion of Jesus: a prison-cell, a Calvary, a now-vanished chapel in similitudine marking the site of Christ’s appearance to Mary Magdalene.

The distance from the Calvary to the aedicule of the Resurrection is 42 meters; this is based on the specific proportions of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in which the distance between these sites is 41.6 meters (Ousterhout, p. 312).

As Ousterhout showed, the chapels and shrines photographed here were just a part of a bigger civic complex: at Easter, a dramatic liturgical procession took place, moving from the nearby church of St John on the Mount (now rebuilt, which played the role of the Church of the Ascension on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives) to the church of St Thekla (now demolished and replaced with a luxury fashion shop in a Baroque palazzo, the location mirrors Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, the dedication to a saint especially popular in Palestine, Cyprus, and Lebanon). From St Thekla the procession continued to Calvary and the Holy Sepluchre at the Santo Stefano complex.

Based quite precisely on the dimensions of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as it was found, in a dilapidated state, by the crusaders, before they rebuilt it in the 1150s and ’60s, the complex sought to improve on the Holy Sites in the Holy Land, replaying holy space in a discontinuous but liturgically resonant cityscape. The Bologna complex, which Ousterhout says was ‘intended to be more than just a souvenir copy’, was an ambitious act of Occidentalism. By this I mean that it shows how the Eastern spaces being remodelled by the Crusaders in Palestine were generated in conversation with western European ideas of biblical history and liturgical memory. This was a western space developed by the West through its fantasies of the East; the East was then remade in this image. The Bologna complex continues to be a potent reminder of Jerusalem: or, should we say, Jerusalem continues to be a potent reminder of Bologna?

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Postscript: on the side of the Bologna complex is a recent piece of graffiti (above): the name ‘Salem’, the Latin name for Jerusalem. This is cognate with the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ (peace) but also recalls the earliest biblical name of Jerusalem, Salem (שלם; Genesis 14).

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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