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Ordinary Jerusalem 1840 –1940 pdf download

📘 Book Title Ordinary Jerusalem 1840 1940
👤 Book AuthorVincent Lemire
🖨️ Total Pages615
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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OrOrdinary Jerusalem 1840 –1940 – Opening New Archives, Revisiting a Global City

Edited by Angelos Dalachanis and Vincent Lemire


Is Jerusalem an ordinary city? To understand its history, should we favour a local or global approach? The goal of this collective volume is to take a head-on approach to these two persistent questions, which have long stood as a hindrance to writing the city’s history.

Taking as a departure point the conceptual framework of Open Jerusalem, a project funded by the European Research Council (ERC),1 each contribution works in its own way to confront, and transcend a double uncertainty.

 First, Jerusalem is an extraordinary city that can be understood only with the greatest possible use of the most ordinary tools of social, political and cultural-historical research. Second, Jerusalem’s local history can only be reconstructed by reference to archives often located in far-away places, including, among others, Addis Ababa, Amman, Athens, Berlin, Erevan, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Moscow, Rome, St. Petersburg, Sofia and Washington. In transforming this double contradiction into creative analytical tension, the thirty-seven authors of this volume revisit the ordinary history of a “global city” from 1840 to 1940, a century that covers the later period of Ottoman rule and most of the Mandate years.

New Objects

This new approach has thematic consequences. The new history of Jerusalem, to which this volume aims to contribute, goes beyond a study of geopolitics and religion. Western historians have long concentrated on these dimensions: from the top of the Mount of Olives they observed what they had come to find, that is, a constellation of controversial holy places clustered together on an eternal battlefield.

Here we choose to shed light on unexpected actors hidden in the blind spots of the city’s history, too long ignored by expanding historiography, which sometimes is unperceptive and preconceived.

These actors include the printers of visiting cards, Ottoman officers in charge of fiscal censuses, angry city dwellers signing petitions in favour of modernizing the water supply system, epidemiologists fighting malaria, municipal civil servants looking to Beirut, Haifa and Nablus for inspiration, an Islamic court judge deciding a case pitting a Russian plaintiff against an Armenian defendant, an Arab parliamentarian in conversation with the creator of modern Hebrew, an orphanage built on and run along with American standards, a musician- photographer, and the engineers and investors behind an aborted tramway project.

These ordinary episodes are brought to life by ordinary actors who were part of Jerusalem’s extraordinary destiny. It is through a history told from below, through small, everyday stories, that the grand history of the city emerges with new colours.

New Timeline

Chronologically speaking, this new approach also has consequences. Though the transition from Ottoman rule (1516–1917) to the British Mandate (1917–48) has traditionally been considered a key turning point in the history of Palestine and Jerusalem, the majority of the volume’s contributors do not consider the year 1917 to be useful in their analyses.2

Nor do the historians represented here to take a strictly geopolitical approach. Making use of the chronological framework offered by the Open Jerusalem project, they chose to consider the period from 1840 to 1940 as a coherent historical sequence that is well-suited to the study of Jerusalem’s history.

The commitment to studying these hundred years is in itself a historiographical novelty. Indeed, seeing past the 1917 mark makes it possible to analyze long-term historical factors otherwise overlooked by the geopolitical watershed associated with that year.

 Between the vigorous demographic renewal and the arrival of the first European consulates in the 1840s, on the one hand, and the rise of inter-community conflict in the late 1930s, on the other, the 1840–1940 span becomes a seamless historical sequence.

This hundred-year period saw the birth, maturity and ruin of a certain model of citadinité, understood here as the way in which city dwellers share urban space, in varying degrees of harmony or conflict.

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