The general goal of the project in terms of expected value added is both pragmatic and ambitious, and can therefore be separated into short- and long-term goals. In the short term, the focus is on doing the necessary to obtain, for the first time, a detailed overview of available archives pertaining to the history of Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940 and to catalogue their contents. In the long term, the goal is to turn this systematic approach to the archives into a decisive catalyst by interconnecting datasets, and networking the researchers who work on them. The logistical program should therefore transition into a scientific one, guiding both the project’s methodology and its timetable through three phases: first, an overview of available resources; second, the organization of inventories and the creation of a web portal; and third, the creation of a new urban history of Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940. Each of these three phases should be accompanied by the dissemination and enhancement of the gains.
• Overview of Available Archives (step 1):
The first decisive phase of the project has never before been attempted. It involves, before embarking on the detailed analysis of content, drafting a thorough and systematic list of the repositories of archival material covering the 1840-1940 period, above all in Jerusalem but also, when justified, outside the city (Istanbul, London, Genève, Amman, Nantes, Berlin, Moscou, Washington, Rome, Madrid…). This phase is key because it will give us access for the first time to an overview of the whole range of available archives, an essential step in what is to follow. Moreover this documentary “lay of the land” promises to be information-rich in itself. It will give us an idea of the relative mass of each collection and foreseen and unforeseen lacuna, and will provide an initial qualitative reckoning of the content (Potin 2011). Until now, none of the handful of projects pertaining to the historical archives of Jerusalem have endeavored to realize this essential preliminary phase, which has doomed these programs to a pointillist and piecemeal vision of the documentary resources available.
• Analytical Inventories, Search-Engine and Web Database (step 2):
The second phase will shift from an overarching view of the available collections or their containers to the analysis of their contents, in order to produce a structured & English-language inventory for the collections, with an eye to creating a database of interconnected data, as far as possible. Depending on the collection and the inventories already available, this phase could involve mere translation of an already existing analytical inventory (if it is judged robust), an overhaul and update, or even creating an inventory from scratch when the collections are truly opaque. The analytical inventories which will be produced, overhauled or translated by the project ERC “Open-Jerusalem” will be made available to conservation institutions in exchange for their collaboration on the project. The work will be performed where archives are stored (Jerusalem but also Istanbul, London, Amman, Geneva, Nantes, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Madrid…).
• A Connected History of Citadinité in Jerusalem, 1840-1940 (step 3):
The third and final phase of the ERC project “Open-Jerusalem” will be devoted to the analytical utilization of the harvested data. In order to connect the fragmented historical narratives of the city and move freely within the archipelago of documentary evidence we will have constructed, our work will focus on the notion of citadinité, prioritizing the institutions which promote a shared city identity able to transcend individual ethno-religious identities. The notion of citadinité is borrowed from the vocabulary of geography and urban sociology and specifically denotes the dynamic identity relationship city-dwellers have (or don’t have) with their urban environment (Lussault 1996). It is also close to the notion of “cityness” forged by Saskia Sassen to reflect on the ability of residents of global cities to “make a city” together. Here, a connected history of citadinité embraces the key notion of “urban citizenship,” meaning the identity-forming ties which (individually or collectively) link residents to their city, its history, patrimony, monuments, landscapes and eminent historical figures. Such ties are imagined, manufactured, appropriated and maintained, just like the ties that national citizenship produces (Anderson 1983). This notion of citadinité is therefore crucial to the study of the history of mixed, imperial and divided cities, because it asks a fundamental question: in the face of religious barriers and projections of national identity, how do residents go ahead and “make a city” anyway? How does this citadinité emerge and how does it slip into crisis? In the case of Jerusalem the chronological hypothesis is the following: beginning in the 1840s Ottoman administrative reforms allowed a new form of citadinité to flourish in Jerusalem; then, in the 1930s, the rise of nationalist projections finally choked it out. This period is still part of the history of the city — a disrupted history, but a history “nonetheless”.