Tag Archives: jerusalem

Jerusalem in the First World War: Public Conference by Falestin Naili

Open Jerusalem core team member Falestin Naili will give a lecture on Tuesday, 27 February, at the Institut français de Jordanie (IFJ) in Amman. The conference is entitled “The First World War in Jerusalem: The End of an Era?” and will be based on the analysis of the Jerusalem Municipal Council minutes and memoirs and diaries from that period.

READ MORE on the archival discovery, transcription and English translation of the Jerusalem Municipal Council minutes carried out in the framework of the Open Jerusalem project.

Les années de la Première Guerre mondiale constituent un tournant majeur dans l’histoire de Jérusalem, que les registres lacunaires du conseil municipal ne permettent d’élucider que croisés avec des mémoires et des journaux privés. Entre les fléaux naturels, les épidémies et le changement politique survenu en 1915, avec l’arrivée au pouvoir de gouverneur ottoman Çemal Pacha, la vie des habitants de la ville changea drastiquement, jusqu’à la reddition de décembre 1917.

Date, Time and Place

Tuesday, 27 February 2018, 6:30pm, Institut français de Jordanie (Amman, Jabal al-Weibdeh)



The conference will be held in French and Arabic

“Inside the Cradle of History”: Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin’s lecture at Al-Quds University

On Tuesday 13 February Vincent Lemire, Open Jerusalem director, and Yann Potin, Open Jerusalem core team member, will give a lecture entitled “Opening the archives of Jerusalem: for a world history of the Holy City” during the workshop  “Inside the Cradle of History” jointly organised by the Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem and the Center for Jerusalem studies at Al-Quds University. It will take place at the Old City campus, Damascus Gate, Aqabet Al-Sheikh Rihan.

The workshop is open to the public.

The Hebrew Press in Jerusalem: New Article on the IFPO Academic Blog

Abdul-Hameed Al-Kayyali, Open Jerusalem core team member, and Hassan Hassan, Open Jerusalem research collaborator, are the authors of the article on the Hebrew press in Late Ottoman Jerusalem entitled “القدس نهاية الفترة العثمانية في عيون الصحافة العبرية: مقاربة نظرية ونقدية”.


New Sources on the Ethiopian Christian Community in Jerusalem

Letter of Yohannes IV to Sultan Abdul- Hameed II dated to 1874 E.C. (1882 AD) [BOA, code Y.A.HUS.170.97].
Letter of Yohannes IV to Sultan Abdul- Hameed II dated to 1874 E.C. (1882 AD) [BOA, code Y.A.HUS.170.97].
The Autumn 2017 Issue of Jerusalem Quarterly (JQ 71) is now out, in print and online. It includes the article by Stéphane Ancel and Vincent LemireAcross the Archives: New Sources on the Ethiopian Christian Community in Jerusalem, 1840–1940“.


Open Jerusalem at the Labex Week Futurs Urbains

During the ‘Labex-Week 2017 Futurs Urbains’  (11-15 September 2017, Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne), on Thursday 14 September Vincent Lemire (ACP, ERC OpenJerusalem director) will speak during the panel on ‘Usages de l’histoire et devenirs urbains’ [‘Uses of urban history and developments’] about ‘Décrire ou numériser les archives de la citadinité? Réflexions épistémologiques sur le projet ERC Open-Jerusalem’ [Describing or digitizing ‘citadinité’ archives? Epistemological Reflections on the ERC project Open Jerusalem]

The Syriac Orthodox Diaspora in Jerusalem (1831-1948). Pilgrims, Refugees and Community Building in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine

by Antoinette Ferrand

In the very early centuries of the Christian era, the Syriac orthodox Christians – also called Jacobites – settled in Jerusalem, in the so-called house of Virgin Mary in the Armenian quarter: this monastery dedicated to St Mark the Evangelist became the headquarter of the Archbishopric which had never been one of the most important centers of the Jacobite church; its original location was indeed in the Tur ‘Abdin, in the Ottoman province of Diyarbakir (East Anatolia). But during the XIXth and XXth centuries, the small community had changed significantly moving from a handful of believers with a few pilgrims arrived from time to time in the Old City, to a refugees center welcoming the survivors of the Seyfo, the genocide committed in the Tur ‘Abdin during World War I. Besides, their dependency to Armenian authorities from which they failed to release, turned gradually into their marginalisation in Arab Palestine.
Thanks to Open Jerusalem team and Father Shimon, the librarian of Saint-Mark monastery, I have studied the baptismal register of the community, from 1831 to 1948. In fact, this document is a compilation of several census produced between the Tanzîmât period and the beginning of the British Mandate on Palestine: as it is explained in the opening text of the register, a Syriac orthodox of the community named Sulayman Jalma, began to collect all the papers related to baptized children in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1931 and ended his work in 1932. Then, the following monks continued to record the new baptized believers until today.

Opening text of the register, written in garshuni
Opening text of the register, written in garshuni
Headings in the first page of the register
Headings in the first page of the register

The register gathers hundreds of middle format pages, in which columns and headings are printed. The garshuni language used to complete the columns, is the transcription of the Arabic in Syriac letters; between 1831 and 1948 few filled lines are written in Arabic. The reverse of that trend is observed after World War II. The information completed in the register deal with the date of the registration, these of birth and baptism, the names and places of origin of the baptized children, of their parents and godfathers/mothers and of the priest who celebrated the baptism.

Extract of the register (1932-1933)
Extract of the register (1932-1933)

Because of the lack of others available archives, I have focused on this register and on the studies published by Andrew Palmer about the Syriac inscriptions of Saint-Mark monastery. Thanks to Flavia Ruani’s translation of the register from garshuni to English, I have first studied statistically the demography of the community at that period. I have also identified the social networks organized around godparenthood and kinship, which were indeed very efficient integration mechanisms. My field survey cargried out in Jerusalem with the cooperation of the community and with that of the CRFJ enabled me to overcome difficulties I encountered, like the unmentioned citizenship or the political involvement of the Syriac believers during the interwar period. Paying attention to the importance of spiritual identity and ritual behaviours, I have tried to better understand how these Christians succeeded in being a real community fitted in well in Jerusalem, despite the impact of political and social changes they went through.

Read Antoinette Ferrand’s full dissertation (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon): “La diaspora syriaque-orthodoxe de Jérusalem (1831-1948). Pèlerins, réfugiés et fabrique communautaire à l’époque ottomane et mandataire”

From Paper Mill to Archives: The Jerusalem documents in the National Library of Bulgaria

by Orlin Sabev

After two prospections missions conducted at the National Library of Bulgaria (Sofia) by Louise Corvasier, Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin (December 2016; June 2017) and with the help and support of Milena Koleva-Zvancharova, Head of the Oriental Collections Department of the NLB, Open Jerusalem research collaborators Orlin Sabev and Stoyanka Kenderova completed the archival description of the two important fonds (283 and 283A) for the history of Ottoman Jerusalem.

The prevailing number of documents related to the history of Jerusalem in the Ottoman period, preserved at present in the Oriental Department of the National Library of Jerusalem in the Ottoman period, preserved at present in the Oriental Department of the National Library “Sts Cyril and Methodius” (Sofia, Bulgaria) established in 1878, are organized in two archival fonds: no. 283 (comprising 7 archival units) and no. 283A (comprising 469 archival units). The Oriental Department houses about 500,000 archival units (comprising about 1 million folios) dating from the Ottoman period. They are organized in several collections, the biggest of which is the collection of topographic funds organized according to the place with which the documents are related to.

As part of the documents preserved in Sofia are originating from the Bulgarian lands that were under Ottoman rule from the late fourteenth century to 1878, the history of most of the documents dates back to the early 1930s when the authorities of the recently proclaimed Republic of Turkey –  known for their rejection of the Sultan’s rule and the Ottoman legacy – sold large amount of Ottoman documents (being charged in several wagons) to a Bulgarian paper mill in order to be recycled for paper production. When the first wagons arrived the factory owners noticed that the cargo is consisted of Ottoman documents and asked expertise by the Oriental Department. After confirming their historical and archival value all the survived documents were transferred to Sofia to be preserved in the Oriental Department. Since the documents were sent from Constantinople and mostly from the depositories of the former Ottoman ministry of finances they deal mainly with financial issues and are related to all the former Ottoman provinces (in the Balkans, Anatolia, the Arabian peninsula, and North Africa). This explains why documents related to Ottoman Jerusalem (mainly dealing with financial issues) are now to be found in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Another point is the process of the organization of these documents into archival funds formed according to the previously existing Ottoman provinces. The organization was executed in two stages: at the first stage over 1,000 topographical funds have been organized in alphabetical order, while at the second stage funds with similar enumeration with attached “A” have been added, respectively. These funds include mainly documents written in Ottoman Turkish, while those in Arabic have been separated in a special collection of Arabic documents. Hence fonds 283 and 283A contain documents related to Ottoman Jerusalem. Since the key word used by the archivists in the distribution of the documents was the place name appearing in them, the fonds include both documents sent from Jerusalem to the Ottoman capital Constantinople, as well as drafts of documents sent from Constantinople to the local authorities in Jerusalem. Although most of the documents deal directly with Jerusalem proper some documents are related to other places located within the province of Jerusalem such as Jaffa, Hebron, Bethlehem, etc. Some documents are mistakenly distributed to the Jerusalem funds because of the similarity between the Arabic/Ottoman name of Jerusalem – Kuds/Kudüs, and the expression “Kuddise Sırruh” (“May God bless him”) used for the famous mystic Jalal ad-din Rumi (1207–1273) whose tomb is in Konya, Central Anatolia. The same is true also for some other documents in which the mosques and waqfs of Rumi are mentioned.

The documents of fonds 283A are distributed in 469 archival units (that is, folders), put in 7 boxes. Most of the folders contain just one document, but some contain two to three, in rare cases even more documents. Some of the documents are torn and therefore they are just fragments simply because the initial purpose of their transportation to Bulgaria was to be recycled in a paper mill as said above. Some other documents are in a poor condition, the edges being rotten and the text partly illegible. Therefore during the exploration of the fonds 283A some damaged documents had been already taken out for chemical restoration and hence I was unable to include them in the inventory.
The documents of fonds 283A are dating from the mid-16th to the early 20th century. The earliest document is dating from 1550 (fragment of a register of zeamets in the district of Doha), while the latest one is from 1908 (related to revenue collection), respectively. The 19th-century documents prevail, however the number of the 17th- and 18th-century documents is also considerable. In terms of content almost all of them deal with financial issues related mostly to incomes from taxes, expenses for the officers who guarded the fortress of Jerusalem, as well as some other minor fortresses in the region, and transfer of waqf posts with the respective salary from one holder (mostly because of his death) to another holder. Having this in mind, the documents of fonds “Jerusalem” preserved in the National Library in Sofia could be useful for studying the socio-economic history of Jerusalem and its province during the Ottoman period.

www.nationallibrary.bg/wp/?page_id=258 (only Bulgarian version is available)
İsmet Binark and Seyit Ali Kahraman, eds., Bulgaristan’daki Osmanlı Evrakı (İstanbul: T.C. Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü, 1994).

Jerusalem 1900: The Holy City in the Age of Possibilities

Vincent Lemire

224 pages | © 2017

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.

International Conference on the History of the Bilâd al Shâm

The Center for Documents and Manuscripts and the Study of the Bilâd al Shâm of the University of Jordan (Amman) will host the 10th International Conference about the history of the Bilâd al Shâm from the 2nd to the 4th of April 2017.

The event is organised by the University of Jordan and the University of Yarmouk.

Among the speakers, Open Jerusalem researcher Falestin Naili will give a lecture about “The Ottoman municipality of Jerusalem and the application of the Tanzîmât reforms in Jerusalem”.

Read the full program here.

The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street, Providence, RI 02912

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

9:30 P.M.
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

9:00–9:30 a.m. Welcoming Remarks

9:30 -11:15 a.m.
Panel 1: Archival Landscapes

Salim Tamari: The 1948 War: New Trends in Palestinian Historiography

Vincent Lemire: Opening Jerusalem’s Memories : for a Transnational, Open and Bottom-up Database of Primary Archives of the Holy City (1840-1940)

Sherene Seikaly: Autobiography, the Archive, and the Question of Palestine

Commentator: Rashid Khalidi

11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Coffee Break 

11:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m.
Panel 2: Archives, Diaries, and Colonial Appropriation

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury:  Memory, Settler Colonial Archive and the Representation of Palestinian Villages

Alex Winder: Police Diaries/Personal Diaries: Using the Notebooks of a Mandate-Era Policeman to Write Palestinian History

Gadi al-Gazi: Profits of Military Rule

Commentator: Caroline Elkins

1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Lunch for workshop presenters at the Sharpe Refectory

2:30-2:45 p.m.
Group photograph Sharpe Refectory Steps

3:00 – 4:45 p.m.:
Panel 3: Literature, the Body, and the Politics of Memory

Ibtisam Azem: “The Book of Disappearance”: The Memory of Place and Its Oral History

Diana Allen: What bodies remember: Sensorium as historical counterpoint in the Nakba archive

Sinan Antoon: Absence, Memory, and Return in Darwish’s Work

Commentator: Emily Drumsta

4:45 – 5:00 p.m.  Coffee Break 

5:00-6:00 p.m. Open Discussion

6:00-6:15 p.m.    Walk to the Pembroke Center, 172 Meeting Street, Providence, RI 02912

6:15 p.m.      Opening reception for Exhibition
Curated by Issam Nassar and Ariella Azoulay
Time Machine: Stereoscopic Views from Palestine 1900

7:35 and 7:45 p.m.
Transfers for workshop presenters to Biltmore hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI

8:15-10:00 p.m.
Private dinner for workshop presenters at Biltmore Hotel,  11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI

Saturday, March 4

8:25 and 8:35 a.m. Transfers for presenters from hotel to Watson Institute

8:45-9:15 a.m. Continental breakfast 

9:15-11:00 a.m.
Panel 4: Oral history and the Politics of Decolonization

Yara Hawari and Francesco Amoruso:  Including Palestine in Indigenous Studies: Oral History and its Relevance for Decolonisation

Hana Sleiman and Kaoukab Chebaro (presented by Sleiman): The Palestinian Oral History Archive at AUB

Abdel Razzaq Takriti : Digital Histories of the Underground: Teaching the Palestinian Revolution

Commentator: Marianne Hirsch

11:00-11:15 a.m. Coffee break 

11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m:
Panel 5: Rethinking Archives

Ann Stoler: On archiving as dissensus

Ariella Azoulay:  No Archival Turn

Brinkley Messick: Sharīʿa, Property, Nakba

Commentator: Beshara Doumani

1:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.:
Working lunch for presenters

End of Formal Program and Departures

2:45 p.m. Transfers for presenters from workshop venue to hotel

De-Municipalising Jerusalem

Les municipalités proche-orientales datent de la fin de l’époque ottomane et sont ainsi des témoins et des acteurs importants des changements qu’a connus la région au cours des 150 dernières années. L’échelon municipal permet d’appréhender les questions liées à l’espace social et politique des villes sur la longue durée. Ainsi, pour le cas de Jérusalem, l’analyse de la gouvernance urbaine (entre la fin de l’époque ottomane et la période mandataire) pointe la centralité de cet échelon afin de comprendre de manière plus nuancée les changements politiques impulsés par l’arrivée de la puissance mandataire.

READ THE ARTICLE: F. Naili, La dé-municipalisation de la gouvernance urbaine et de l’espace politique post-ottoman : le cas de Jérusalem, Les Carnets de l’IFPO

Annual Congress of French Society of Urban History

Vincent Lemire will join next Annual Congress of the French Society of Urban History (19-20 January 2017) with a presentation about “Gouverner Jérusalem, entre souverainetés impériales, réformes municipales et revendications nationales (1867-1967)”.

The full program is available here.


The politics of archives and the practices of memory

The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory,” is the theme of the fourth annual meeting of NDPS, to be held March 3-4, 2017, at the Watson Institute, Brown University.

New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) provides a platform for rigorous intellectual exchange on new directions in research and writing about Palestine and the Palestinians, supports the work of emerging scholars, and promotes the integration Palestinian studies into the larger streams of critical intellectual inquiry.

The central question of the fourth annual meeting is: What does it mean for the colonized, the disenfranchised, and the displaced to produce narratives through archival and memorial practices? Other theoretical, empirical, and comparative questions follow. How are archives and memories produced, assembled, and mobilized in settler colonial contexts? In what ways are archives and memories sites of struggle and appropriation, and looting? How can we theorize archives and memory from perspectives critical of state-centric political configurations and conventional concepts of sovereignty?

An archive fever has been coursing through the Palestinian body politic for two decades now. What explains this phenomenon and how has it been shaped by the information technology revolution? How have artistic and social media interventions reconstructed the archival and the memorial as sites for research? In what ways can one analyze novels, poetry, and other forms of literature as forms of memory and archives without instrumentalizing these literary genres?

Vincent Lemire, director of the Open Jerusalem project, will present the work conducted by OJ on Jerusalem history throughout dozens of archives in Jerusalem and around the world.

New Release: Jerusalem. A Global City

Jérusalem – Histoire d’une ville-monde

Edited by Vincent Lemire (Open Jerusalem Director)

With contributions by Katell Berthelot (Centre Paul-Albert Février, CNRS), Julien Loiseau (CRFJ) and Yann Potin (Open Jerusalem Historian and Archivist, Archives nationales  de France)

Paris, Flammarion

Date of Publication: 12 October 2016

Read here the table of contents