Perhaps the most contested patch of earth in the world, Jerusalem’s Old City experiences consistent violent unrest between Israeli and Palestinian residents, with seemingly no end in sight. Today, Jerusalem’s endless cycle of riots and arrests appears intractable—even unavoidable—and it looks unlikely that harmony will ever be achieved in the city. But with Jerusalem 1900, historian Vincent Lemire shows us that it wasn’t always that way, undoing the familiar notion of Jerusalem as a lost cause and revealing a unique moment in history when a more peaceful future seemed possible.
In this masterly history, Lemire uses newly opened archives to explore how Jerusalem’s elite residents of differing faiths cooperated through an intercommunity municipal council they created in the mid-1860s to administer the affairs of all inhabitants and improve their shared city. These residents embraced a spirit of modern urbanism and cultivated a civic identity that transcended religion and reflected the relatively secular and cosmopolitan way of life of Jerusalem at the time. These few years would turn out to be a tipping point in the city’s history—a pivotal moment when the horizon of possibility was still open, before the council broke up in 1934, under British rule, into separate Jewish and Arab factions. Uncovering this often overlooked diplomatic period, Lemire reveals that the struggle over Jerusalem was not historically inevitable—and therefore is not necessarily intractable. Jerusalem 1900 sheds light on how the Holy City once functioned peacefully and illustrates how it might one day do so again.
Vincent Lemire, Open Jerusalem director, will give a double lecture at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University next Tuesday, April 18th, on his current research concerning the Harat al-Moghrabi and on the work conducted within the Open Jerusalem project.
See the full program here.
Thursday, Mar. 2
5:30-7:30 p.m. Critical Conversations Panel “Palestine-Israel in the Trump Era”
with Rashid Khalidi, Sherene Seikaly, and Brown Faculty J. Brian Atwood and Omer Bartov. Moderator: Beshara Doumani
Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street
7:45 p.m. Dinner for Critical Conversations panel speakers and workshop presenters at Brown Faculty Club
Shuttle Faculty Club to Biltmore hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence
Friday, March 3
8:15 and 8:25 a.m.
Transfers for presenters from Biltmore hotel to Watson Institute
8:30-9:00 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast
Vincent Lemire, Yann Potin and Roch Payet will animate the seminar on “Open Jerusalem: « l’identité citadine » de Jérusalem entre 1840 et 1940” that will be held in Paris at the French National Institute of Heritage on the 20th of February, 2017. For more information please click here.
L’histoire de Jérusalem à la fin de l’Empire ottoman a longtemps été oubliée et mérite d’être racontée. On y croise un maire arabe polyglotte, un député ottoman franc-maçon, des Juifs levantins, mais aussi des archéologues occidentaux occupés à creuser le sous-sol pour faire ressurgir les lieux saints de la « Jérusalem biblique »…
La ville n’a pas toujours été un champ de bataille. À l’orée du XXe siècle, une autre histoire s’est esquissée, portée par l’émergence d’une identité citadine partagée entre musulmans, juifs et chrétiens.
Alors que la ville sainte est aujourd’hui à un nouveau tournant de son histoire et que la question de son partage se pose une fois encore, il faut se souvenir de cet « âge des possibles » qui peut livrer quelques clés pour mieux comprendre le présent et envisager l’avenir.
VINCENT LEMIRE est maître de conférences à l’université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée. Spécialiste d’histoire urbaine, il dirige actuellement le projet européen Open-Jerusalem, qui vise à rassembler toute la documentation disponible dans toutes les langues sur l’histoire de Jérusalem.
“Jerusalem is now become a central point of interest to France and Russia. It is no doubt the object of Russia to subjugate the primitive church of the countries.”
Letter from William Tanner Young, British Vice Consul in Jerusalem to Stratford Canning, ambassador of the United Kingdom in Constantinople, January 8, 1844.
Since the early surveys, the question of the documentation of the Russian presence in Jerusalem from 1840 constitutes a major challenge for the Opening Jerusalem Archives project. The recently increased and strategic presence of Russia in the Middle East, the presence of the archives both inside Jerusalem and abroad, undoubtedly requires patient investigation, specially because the records are not immediately accessible. Guided by previous research conducted by Elena Astafieva, we decided to identify in the Russian archives some relevant fonds in order to explore the intimate relations between the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian imperial patronage and the city of Jerusalem.
Between espionage and messianism: the Russian presence in Jerusalem
The pilgrimage to Jerusalem has been indeed of decisive importance for Russian Christianity since the 19th century, when the mystical value of the pilgrimage as an element of messianic tendencies within the Russian Orthodoxy got more interest. The number of Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem each year is then at least five times as numerous as the Catholic or Protestant pilgrims from Western Europe. Historians have noted and underlined this feature, indicating what strategic role it played in the Eastern policy of the Tsarist Empire (see for example the recent book of Lorraine de Meaux, La Russie et la tentation de l’Orient, Paris, Fayard, 2010, pp. 278-291). Marking its presence in Jerusalem, was for the Empire of the Tsars a way to penetrate the heart of its biggest rival, the Ottoman Empire, which he continuously persisted on eroding the boundaries since the eighteenth century. While until 1917 the Tsars continued to claim their right on Constantinople, sending missionaries to Jerusalem constituted also a form of diplomatic espionage. In parallel, a latent conflict or competition between the Greeks and the Russians took place, following ancient divisions within Orthodox Christianity. That is the reason why it is necessary to investigate the Greek archives (in Jerusalem, Athens or Istanbul) in order to have a better understanding of the Russian presence in Jerusalem. This presence was constantly growing and that’s why, in the 1880s, outside the walls of the Old City, near the hospital Notre-Dame-de-France, a wide hospice, known since then as the “Russian Compound“, was built. It could simultaneously accommodate more than 1,000 patients and pilgrims. It became quickly the first core of a real Russian neighborhood, nowadays integrated in the old part of West Jerusalem, making it not only a pavement in the history of diplomacy, but also a matter of urban development. This complexity raises the question of the scattering of archives regarding the relations between Russia, the Russians and the city of Jerusalem. The situation became even more complicated after 1917 when the Soviet Union seemed to lose interest for the Russian presence in the ‘Holy Land’ and until the pots-1948 concession of the Russian compound to the state of Israel. The eventual location, preservation and the very presence of the Archives in the building are still to be verified. A major Russian emigration to Palestine, also after internal schisms within the Russian Orthodox church, has never stopped during the interwar period, increased by the growing issue of Russian Jews, which formed a decisive part of aliyot to Israel and particularly Jerusalem.
The Russian missionaries and their records
An initial investigation about the first Russian missionaries was prepared during a meeting with Elena Astafieva on March 17 in Paris. Elena Astafieva has already published about the Imperial Palestine Society founded in 1881. Therefore she contributed to identify many records and archives. The first prospecting mission in Saint Petersburg archives conducted by Angelos Dalachanis, Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin took place in April 2016 (18-21).
One of the cultural activities of the Company until 1917 consisted in publishing sources and archival documents about the early years of the “Russian presence” in Jerusalem, as Derek Hopwood names it (The Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843-1914, Oxford, 1969). Historiography retains indeed 1843 as a founding date: this date corresponds to the secret mission held between December 1843 and August 1844 by the Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski in Jerusalem, followed by a second mission between 1847 and 1854. However, the Russian ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem was officially recognized only in 1858, after the Crimean War. In 1865, the arrival of Antonin Kapustin at the head of this Mission opened a long period of activity and sustainable investments, until the death of Kapustin in 1894 (see the article by Lucien J. Frary ). Elena Astafieva indicated several possible accesses to the dispersed fonds of Antonin Kapustin: the Academy of Sciences (see image 0) whose archives collect part of the fonds Dimitrievski (fond 214), former secretary of the Imperial Society; the Historical Archives (RGIA) (see image 1) that gather a relevant part of Kapustin’s diary, including several volumes that are to be edited by the publishing house Indrik (see image 2), and finally the Russian National Library.
Archival oasis: the Archive of the Academy of Sciences of Saint Petersburg
Science Academy archives have been the main place of investigation during this mission (see image 3 and 4). Apart for the fond 214 (Dimitrievski, former secretary of the Imperial Society), we analysed the richness of the archives of Porphyry Uspenski – Fond 118 – following the suggestion of the director of the Academy archives, Irini Tunkina (see image 5), who warmly welcomed us and offered the Open Jerusalem project a guide to these archives (see image 6).
The fond 214 contains some correspondence of Antonin Kapustin (see image 7) in 1865-1874. Most of the letters received were in Russian, but an important part of them are in Greek. Decrypted by Angelos Dalachanis (see image 8), they show a close and complex relationship with the Greek or Arab Orthodox communities. Several letters in French or Italian testify the extension of Kapustin relations with the local society. In total, this correspondence represents nearly 4000 pages. It requires a detailed analysis, and an inventory describing each document would not help us find our way. We should therefore find another way to give value to the historical richness of these records.
The fond 118 is very complete. It is described by a printed inventory from 1891, six years after the assassination of Uspenski in 1885 by Sirku (see image 10). Numerous papers have been published from this fond, starting with the diary, extremely rich, by Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski (Knyga Bytia moevo, 8 volumes from 1894 to 1910 see image 11 and 12) or several original reports and memoirs (the first in 1844) especially one by Bezobrazov in 1910. However, many biographical material, including official documents relating to its mission, the passport or the original firman (inventory 1, No. 30-31) remained unpublished. Furthermore, the materials on the two missions of Jerusalem are grouped into five registers (inventory 1, No. 32-36), which represent almost one thousand pages.
There are many account (otchets), memories (zapiska), drafts minutes and accounts (tetrad) mostly unpublished, which at least deserve a new investigation. They document mostly the period 1848-1854, corresponding to the second mission of Uspensky funded up to 10,000 rubles a year by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Nesselrode. There are glimpses of the many “gifts” made to the Greek Patriarchate, the attempts to purchase or rent some buildings in Jerusalem (including a development plan), but also the episode of 1854 that shows Uspensky convincing the Greek Patriarchate Orthodox to establish an Arab printing press and the implementation of a seminary. These records require deep analysis, to distinguish what has already been published. Certainly this fond will be of considerable interest from the Open Jerusalem research program.
After this first survey in the Russian archives (see image 13), the team, guided by Lora Gerd, professor at the Historical Institute in Saint Petersburg, will continue the work in the archives of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A second OJ mission is therefore organised from Sept. 11 to Sept. 16, 2016.
L’ERC Open Jerusalem, projet de recherche piloté par Vincent Lemire et dont Leyla Dakhli, chercheure au CMB, est membre, sera l’hôte du Centre Marc Bloch les 18 et 19 janvier prochains (séminaire de travail dans la salle Georg Simmel).
Deux moments de discussion publique seront proposés à l’ensemble des personnes intéressées (en anglais).
Une présentation publique du projet par Vincent Lemire et Yann Potin aura lieu le 18 janvier à 17h. Les historiens et archivistes réunis dans le projet travaillent à connecter les archives de la ville – présentes aussi bien à Jérusalem que dans le monde entier, écrites dans de multiples langues et alphabets – pour en écrire collectivement une histoire globale. Seront présentés les enjeux liés à l’ouverture des archives, à leur recensement et à leur utilisation par les chercheurs.
Le 19 janvier à partir de 14h, un séminaire ouvert au public portera sur les archives allemandes et germanophones de Jérusalem.
Vincent Lemire présentera les premiers jalons du projet de recherche OPEN-JERUSALEM qui se base sur le dépouillement des archives de Jérusalem, à la fin de l’époque ottomane et pendant la période mandataire. Ce projet majeur et novateur, financé par le Conseil Européen de la Recherche (ERC), vise à connecter les archives des diérentes communautés hiérosolymitaines, trop souvent étudiées séparément, pour établir une histoire de la «citadinité» à Jérusalem.
Vincent Lemire est maître de conférences en histoire contemporaine à l’Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée et chercheur associé à l’Ifpo. Il a soutenu en 2006 une thèse en histoire environnementale intitulée «une hydrohistoire de Jérusalem aux XIXème et XXème siècles». Il dirige actuellement le projet ERC OPEN-JERUSALEM (2014-2019) : «Opening Jerusalem’s Archives: for a connected history of ‘Citadinité’ in the Holy City (1840-1940)».
Chairman : Salim Tamari (Institute of Jerusalem Studies)
Discussant: Jens Hanssen (Univ Toronto) Vincent Lemire (Univ Paris-Est / Dir. ERC Open-Jerusalem Project) : “Managing the Open Jerusalem Project : A Transnational, Collaborative and Democratic Attempt” Michelle U. Campos (Univ Florida) : “Mapping People and Places in Late Ottoman Jerusalem through GIS” Leyla Dakhli (Centre Marc Bloch – CNRS) : “From Mutual Understandings to Multiple Translations: Languages of Jerusalem at the Turn of the 20th Century” Anouk Cohen (CNRS) : “Shared Uses of Religious Schools, Libraries and Printing Press in the Holy City”
7ème séance / 7th session : Ethiopia in Open Jerusalem ERC-Project: Transnational Issues of Ongoing Researches and Inquiries, par / by Vincent Lemire(UPEM-ACP/Open Jerusalem Project Director) & Dr. Stéphane Ancel (IMAF/Open Jerusalem Project Member)
Mercredi 13 mai 2015, 14h-17h, Bibliothèque d’études éthiopiennes Berhanou Abebe (CFEE) / Wednesday 13th May 2015, 2-5 PM, Berhanou Abebe Library of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE).
Ethiopia in Open Jerusalem ERC-Project: Transnational Issues of Ongoing Researches and Inquiries
Even if the tie between Jerusalem and Ethiopia is ancient, the Ethiopian community is usually not included in historical works concerning Jerusalem. “Open Jerusalem” project and its members are, on the contrary persuaded of the absolute need to include Ethiopia and Ethiopians in Jerusalem history. The Open Jerusalem project (full title: “Opening Jerusalem Archives: for a shared and connected history of citadinité in the Holy City-1840-1940”) aims at studying the urban society of Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940. Supported and funded by the European Union (EU), through the European Council of Research (ERC), this project focuses on local administrative archives and on all demographic segments of the Holy City’s population from 1840 to 1940. Presented by Dr. Vincent Lemire, director of the project and specialist of Jerusalem contemporary history, and by Dr. Stéphane Ancel, specialist of Ethiopian contemporary history, this paper aims at discussing the main issues of the project, specially the transnational issues about researches and inquiries of documents concerning Ethiopian community in Jerusalem.
Photo: Monastery of Däbrä Gännät Kidanä Mehrät, Jerusalem (S. Ancel)
Inscrites dans le programme « conflits d’archives en Méditerranée (2012-2015) » (Casa de Velázquez, Ecole française d’Athènes, Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes), ces deux journées d’études sont l’occasion d’une réflexion collective et comparatiste sur les ouvertures d’archives. Dans une perspective de longue durée réunissant archivistes, juristes et historiens spécialistes de la France, de la péninsule Ibérique et de Jérusalem, les conflits liés aux ouvertures d’archives seront d’abord envisagés comme une affaire de droit(s). Et ce depuis les conditions concrètes des ouvertures d’archives où surgissent des conflits, jusqu’aux acteurs impliqués et aux motivations liées à la valeur symbolique, politique, voire fondatrice prêtée aux archives. Il s’agit de comprendre dans quelle mesure les luttes menées en vue de leur plus grande accessibilité laissent des traces dans le fonctionnement et le rôle ultérieur des archives. Certaines ouvertures s’avèrent problématiques, inachevées, ou peuvent être remises en cause, en raison notamment de changements politiques. Tout en signifiant métaphoriquement une forme de libération par l’accès à ce qui était auparavant tenu au secret, « l’ouverture des archives » peut ainsi, de fait, constituer un compromis précaire entre des protagonistes aux intérêts divergents. En ouvrant les archives, met-on véritablement un terme définitif aux conflits qu’elles suscitent ? Accueillie dans le nouveau site des Archives nationales, à Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, deux ans après son ouverture au public en janvier 2013, la rencontre se terminera par une table ronde et un débat qui se proposent d’élargir la question de l’ouverture à toutes les formes contemporaines de communicabilité et de médiation de la matière « archives ».
Lundi 13 avril
9h. Accueil par Françoise Banat-Berger, directrice des Archives nationales
Ouverture : Stéphane Michonneau (Casa de Velázquez, Madrid)
9h30 Véronique Lamazou-Duplan (université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour) : Ouverture sous contrôle. Les archives de Foix au début du XVe siècle
10h 45 Marie Ranquet (SIAF) : La communicabilité des archives publiques en France, genèse d’un Graal archivistique (1794-2008)
11h45 Maria de Lurdes Rosa (Universidade Nova de Lisbonne) Ouvrir le chartrier, donner accès au patrimoine archivistique familial: les sens des ouvertures des archives de famille noble dans la longue durée (Portugal, XVe-XXIe siècles)
Between the 8th and the 18th of February 2015, Open Jerusalem team member Stéphane Ancel visited members of the Ethiopian Orthodox community in Jerusalem. His initiative aimed at establishing contact between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Open Jerusalem Project and at evaluating possibilities for studying Ethiopian Orthodox documents in Jerusalem.
Historical sources attest the very early presence of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Jerusalem. However the Ethiopian Orthodox community has known a great revival during the 19th and 20th century. Several sites in the town bear witness to Ethiopian Orthodox activities:
– the famous monastery Dar as-Sultan, located on the roof of Helena’s chapel, and its two associated chapels dedicated to Michael and to the Four Living Creatures, which are served by Ethiopian monks.
– the so-called Archbishop’s residence: located in the Old City (Ethiopian Monastery Street, near the 8th Station of the Via Dolorosa), this house was given to the Ethiopians in 1876 but used as such only from 1891. It accommodates today the Ethiopian Orthodox Church administration and a chapel dedicated to St. Phillip.
– The monastery of Däbrä Gännät Kidanä Mehrät, located in West Jerusalem, Ethiopia Street, was commissioned by King of Kings Yohannes IV (1872-1889) but was finished in 1896 by Menilek II (1889-1913).
– A large building in Hanivim Street, commissioned by Empress Zäwditu in 1928 was used for Ethiopian consulate administration and also for accommodating Ethiopians who worked and settled in Jerusalem.
– Some buildings are not occupied by Ethiopians anymore but still bear witness to the important Ethiopian Orthodox activities during the 20th century. A house commissioned by Queen Taytu (wife of Menilek II) in 1903, located at the crossroad of Heleni Mamalka and Shivtei Israel streets is now occupied by the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Some other houses built or bought by Ethiopians at the beginning of the 20th century and formally given to the Ethiopian monastic community, are still visible in the Ethiopian compound, even if they are nowadays occupied by other institutions.
Stéphane Ancel visited these sites, met elders of the community and obtained information concerning the community, its organization and its history. He was also warmly received by His Grace Abune Enbaqom, Ethiopian archbishop in the Holy Land, and other officials of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Jerusalem to whom he presented the aims and issues of Open Jerusalem Project. His Grace Archbishop Abune Enbaqom and all members of the Ethiopian Orthodox community have welcomed the Open Jerusalem project initiative. However, they legitimately asked the project to officially demand the authorization to the Patriarchate of Addis Ababa to analyze the documents preserved in the archives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Holy Land. For that purpose, Vincent Lemire, director of the project and Julien Loiseau, director of the French Research Centre in Jerusalem, officially contacted the headquarter of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate in Addis Abeba. This is the beginning of the process… to be followed….
Opening Jerusalem Archives: for a connected history of 'Citadinité' in the Holy City (1840-1940)