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Jerusalem Interrupted
Modernity and Colonial Transformation 1917–Present
edited by Lena Jayyusi

published 2015 • 7.5” x 9.25” • 552 pages • color photos throughout
ISBN 9781566567879 • paperback • $30.00


“Focusing on the city which many consider to lie at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this book presents a panorama of real life in Arab Jerusalem, particularly during the British Mandate years — and how it abruptly changed in 1948. Comprising essays by 19 different scholars, Jerusalem Interrupted has in-depth coverage of a broad range of fields and issues, reflecting the diversity and development that was once a hallmark of the city. High-quality, historical and current photos and maps complement the well-researched essays. Taken as a whole, the book provides a comprehensive picture with a good balance between detail and general observation…While there are many accounts of Palestine’s modern political history, it is only in recent times that the country’s social and cultural history has been properly addressed in English-language books. Jerusalem Interrupted is a substantial, new contribution to this latter type of history, which has rich political implications for  understanding the past and working to chart a different future.”
—Jordan Times

More Reviews »


“The history of colonization is always the history of suppression of various texts and voices, as well as ways of being, and the reinscription into discourse and narrative of an alternate set of histories that are predicated on that suppression. ‘Absence’ is not merely docile, it is a produced deficit in knowledge, a kind of negative symbolic capital, a weight and value accruing to that which colonizes empty space. The silenced past needs to speak. The silenced past needs also to be reconnected with the vocal present, in order to speak fully and to play a critical role in subverting the silences planned in the present and the further transformations these silences would enable.” 
—Lena Jayyusi, from the Introduction

Most histories of twentieth-century Jerusalem published in English focus on the city’s Jewish life and neighborhoods. This book offers a crucial balance to that history.

On the eve of the British Mandate in 1917, Jerusalem Arab society was rooted, diverse, and connected to other cities, towns, and the rural areas of Palestine. A cosmopolitan city, Jerusalem saw a continuous and dynamic infusion of immigrants and travelers, many of whom stayed and made the city theirs. Over the course of the three decades of the Mandate, Arab society in Jerusalem continued to develop a vibrant, networked, and increasingly sophisticated milieu. No one then could have imagined the radical rupture that would come in 1948, with the end of the Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel.

This groundbreaking collection of essays brings together distinguished scholars and writers and follows the history of Jerusalem from the culturally diverse Mandate period through its transformation into a predominantly Jewish city.  Essays detail often unexplored dimensions of the social and political fabric of a city that was rendered increasingly taut and fragile, even as areas of mutual interaction and shared institutions and neighborhoods between Arabs and Jews continued to develop.

Contributors include: Lena Jayyusi, Issam Nassar, Samia A. Halaby, Elias Sahhab, Andrea Stanton, Makram Khoury-Machool, Sandy Sufian, Awad Halabi, Ellen L. Fleischmann, Widad Kawar, Rochelle Davis, Subhi Ghosheh, Mohammad Ghosheh, Tom Abowd, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Michael Dumper, Nahed Awwad, Ahmad J. Azem, Nasser Abourahme.

Lena Jayyusi is a professor in the College of Communication and Media Sciences on the Dubai campus of Zayed University. A renowned translator of Arabic fiction, she has also published works on the role of Palestinian broadcasting, Palestinian media during the Oslo peace process, the globalization of human rights discourse, and the role of media in democracy.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Salma Khadra Jayyusi   ix
Preface and Acknowledgments   x
Note on Transliteration   xii

Introduction: Arab Jerusalem and Colonial Transformation
Lena Jayyusi   xiii

Part I: Arab Jerusalem 1900–1948: Practices, Activities, and Institutions   1

1. The Emergence of Photography as a Locally Practiced Craft in Jerusalem
Issam Nassar   3

2. The Pictoral Arts of Jerusalem, 1900–1948
Samia A. Halaby   21

3. Music in Arab Jerusalem during the First Half of the Twentieth Century
Elias Sahhab   57 

4. Broadcasting a Nationalist Modernity: Arabic Programming on the Palestine ­Broadcasting Service under ‘Ajaj Nuwayhid 1940–1943
Andrea Stanton   73

5. A Window on the Palestinian Press in Jerusalem Before 1948
Makram Khoury-Machool   87 

6. Healing Jerusalem: Colonial Medicine and Arab Health from World War I to 1948
Sandy Sufian   115

7. Islamic Ritual and Palestinian Nationalism: al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Nabi Musa Festival, 1921–1937
Awad Halabi   139 

8. Jerusalem Arab Women’s Politicization during the British Mandate
Ellen L. Fleischmann   153

9. The Silk Threads of Jerusalem: Attire and Handicrafts during the British Mandate ­Period
Widad Kawar   169

10. Growing up Palestinian in Jerusalem before 1948: Childhood Memories of Communal Life, Education, and Political Awareness
Rochelle Davis   187

11. Growing Up in Shaykh Jarrah: A Short Memoir
Subhi Ghosheh   211

12. The Shaykh Jarrah Quarter: A Brief Topographic–Historical Survey
Muhammad Ghosheh   227

Part II: 1948 and After: Transformations of Space and Place   243

13. “Diverse Absences”: Remembering and Forgetting Arab–Jewish Relations in the Jerusalem of the British Empire
Thomas Abowd   249

14. Translating Truths: Nationalism, the Practice of Archaeology, and the Remaking of Past and Present in Contemporary Jerusalem
Nadia Abu El-Haj   269

15. Christianity, Jerusalem, and Zionist Exclusivity: The St. John’s Hospice Incident Reconsidered
Michael Dumper   287

16. In Search of Jerusalem Airport
Nahed Awwad   301

17. The Israeli Redefinition of Jerusalem
Ahmad Jamil Azem   311

18. Imagining a Just Jerusalem: Citizenship and the Right to the City
Nasser Abourahme   359

Notes on Contributors   381
Endnotes and Bibliography   383

Media Reviews
"This volume of 18 original essays plus the editor’s introduction is in two parts: the years of the British Mandate and the period since 1948.  Generally, the first part is cultural anthropology and social history, and the second is political geography.  The scope is wide: archaeology, art and handcrafts, photography, music, health, memoir, festivals, and historical incidents.  Written by artists and academic scholars (most are Palestinians, many living in Canada, the US, or Europe), the chapters focus on the vibrant, diverse, and commingling religious and ethnic population of Jerusalem’s first decades of the 20th century and the emerging sense of (Christian and Muslim) Palestinian nationhood.  Part 2 chronicles (with maps) the rupture of 1948 and subsequent acts of Israel that “aborted the project of an indigenous Arab modernity in the city.”  In the constructivist perspective, essays document both a nearly lost narrative of Jerusalem’s Arab past and “the Zionist project of transforming Jerusalem into a Jewish city” at both the physical and subjective levels.  Especially interesting are essays on the political mobilization of women during the British Mandate period and historical photos, e.g., those of the once-active Jerusalem airport in the occupied West Bank. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries."

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Of Related Interest:
My Jerusalem
Jerusalem in History
The Storyteller of Jerusalem