Supported and funded by an European institution reputed for its neutrality and stability - the European Research Council (ERC) -, this project distinguishes itself through the scientific quality of its research tools, the close attention it pays to local administrative archives and its unbiased openness to all demographic segments of the Holy City’s population. Last but not least, it does not limit itself to a logistical initiative but scientifically utilizes those sources as part of a real intellectual proposal intended to produce a connected history of citadinité in Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940.
Citadinité is not a vague notion that hovers above the city, it is not only a discursive category. On the contrary, it materializes in institutions, actors and practices. That is why we must begin with the archives if we are to track down the places and modalities of this factory of citadinité in Jerusalem between 1840-1940. This history must be a bottom-up history of the city, which until now has been the farthest thing from the minds of Jerusalem historians often obsessed by ideological and geostrategic issues alone. This history is a connected one because, within a complex documentary archipelago, it looks for points of contact that show the exchanges, interactions and sometimes hybridization between different traditions. In this inquiry, the concept of “the public good” is obviously central, even though we should be wary of clumsily applying the western public / private model to complex local realities.
This list is not exhaustive of course, it only tries to give a few concrete examples of investigations to be undertaken and possible connections between documentary collections. We can imagine other paths of inquiry exploring the modalities of habitat (from the Ottoman census of 1883 and 1905, and Mandatory cadasters); co-funded public works projects (from municipal archives, waqf archives, and imperial archives of Istanbul); health policy (idem); the social mixing between families (from personal memoires and private correspondences); institutional inter-faith exchanges (from correspondences preserved in the patriarchates)…
The potential for a connected history of citadinité in Jerusalem is tremendous and hopefully the Open Jerusalem project will help uncover further opportunities.
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