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Ottoman and Colonial Modernities in the Transformation of the Urban Sphere

  • Salim Tamari
Wednesday 28 September 2016
LUCIS scholar Salim Tamari
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 2
2311 BZ Leiden
Matthias de vrieshof 2, room 6B
Salim Tamari

Salim Tamari will offer a masterclass on “Ottoman and Colonial Modernities in the Transformation of the Urban Sphere”. Master students and PhD candidates are encouraged to participate in this event.

Class description

A regional urban network emerged at the end of the 19th century in southern Syria which involved a substantial amount of infrastructural planning (roads, railroads and telegraphic communication) created a complimentary system of defensive boundaries for the southern flanks of the empire. Within this triad a new regional division of function that did not exist before emerged: the provincial administrative capital (Jerusalem); the port city (Jaffa) linking the province to external trade and pilgrimage; and the frontier garrison town, Beersheba. Within each city the Ottoman authorities, both central and local, created new public domains that echoed a vision of Istanbul modernity, adapted to local conditions. Public ceremonial architecture such as the sebils, government Saraya, telegraph monuments, and clock towers, were standardized Ottoman edifices that attempted to celebrate the centralized grandeur of the Tanizmat state, and integrate the Arab provincial capitals within the Anatolian-Arab homeland. These features were accelerated and redefined by the onset of WWI. They also functioned as the arenas of deploying public support for imperial modernity and its constitutional reforms. During the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, and the following agitation against the Hamidian dictatorship, these arenas became the centers for popular mobilization.

While extensive social differentiation accompanied the growth and expansion of Syrian cities at the turn of the century we have challenged here the popular conception of a kulturkampf involving a conflicted modernity of coastal metropolitan Jaffa and a bureaucratic religious domain of Jerusalem—and another one between Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Rather, considerable ethnic and class conflicts emerged within these cities, rather than between them. These cleavages took the form of peripheral townships of working-class dwellings and itinerant labour surrounding the traditional qasaba of the city (in case of Jaffa), and the rapid expansion (after 1910) of planned and spontaneous middle class habitat in the north and west of Jerusalem. Soon after the Mandate much of the ethnic religious separation in habitat was translated in national struggle over land between Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism.
Views about Ottoman neglect of public planning, common in retrospective scholarship about the Mandate period, will be examined and challenged during the masterclass.

Reading materials: will be send in advance


Applicants should send a document consisting of a short bio of approx. 250 words, detailing your education, publications and research activities, as well as a short motivational letter of approx. 350 words describing why you wish to attend this masterclass. Applications must be send to lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Applications can be send until Sunday 25 September.

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