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Lecture | Public event

POSTPONED | Book launch: Graffiti, street names and visiting cards: the fractured history of Arabic and Hebrew urban textuality in modern Jerusalem

  • Yair Wallach
Thursday 4 June 2020
Will probably be held in June 2021
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Vossius room (on the 2nd floor)

The CrossRoads project is proud to present Graffiti, street names and visiting cards: the fractured history of Arabic and Hebrew urban textuality in modern Jerusalem, a new book by Yair Wallach. This public event takes place as part of the conference Vocabularies of Tourism: Archeology, Language and Tourism in Palestine (1898-1948)

This book, an example of atypical research on an unusual corpus of sources, is fundamental for the research conducted by CrossRoads project.

About the book

Investigating fragmented, ephemeral and forgotten texts, A City in Fragments is a journey through the streets of late-Ottoman and British ruled Jerusalem.  The book follows the role played by stone inscriptions, telegrams and holy banners and many other textual artefacts in the construction of modern Jerusalem.
Yair Wallach explores the emergence of modern urban textuality in Jerusalem between 1850 and 1948. As urban texts became a tool in the service of Zionism, British colonialism and Arab nationalism, Arabic and Hebrew found themselves locked in a bitter war of languages.  Modernity displaced ancient sacred texts that had been in use for centuries; it introduced new signs and textual artefacts that sought to define and categorise buildings, artefacts, streets, and people, as if they were blank pages.

Key features:

  • Explores a fascinating unusual corpus of textual artefacts of daily experience: street name plates, graffiti, visiting cards, money
  • ​​​​​​Examines comparatively the sister-enemy languages of Arabic and Hebrew, suggesting striking commonalities and differences between Arab and Jewish approach to textuality
  • Follows the battle on Hebrew between local Jews and newcomers, and the Zionification of Hebrew
  • Studies the British rewriting of Jerusalem as a city of the past, and its contrast with Ottoman ethos of modernisation
  • Investigates the use of modern text as tool of hegemony and resistance

About the author

Yair Wallach is a cultural and social historian of modern Palestine/Israel focussing on visual and material culture and the urban sphere. He has published articles on the use of maps as symbols, on the sociology of late Ottoman Palestine's Jewish communities, on "shared space" in Jerusalem before 1948, and on Muslim-Jewish acculturation. He is a senior lecturer in Israeli Studies at SOAS, University of London, and the head of SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies.

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