Dr. Michelle Campos (Department of History), an Associate Professor studying the modern Middle East, used her 2016 Rothman Faculty Summer Fellowship to travel to Jerusalem and conduct research relating to her current book project, Unmixing the Holy City, and an accompanying multi-media GIS project, “Jerusalem 1905.” Taken together, these projects will constitute a book project that is supplemented by a digital interface highlighting the social history of Jerusalem and the lived experience of Jerusalemites around the turn of the twentieth century. While the book project takes a look at the fifty year transformation from mixed imperial city to colonial and national capital, the digital project aims to provide a microhistorical view of the city in a single year and to engage the public in a discussion about different claims over Jerusalem.
The Ottoman Census of 1905 shows that Jerusalem was a mixed city with clusters of certain demographics dependent upon the infrastructures that shaped the city. Dr. Campos aims to use the supplementary sources to rewrite traditionally silenced peoples back into the history and landscape and to uncover narratives and relationships that are missing from our current understanding of Jerusalem in 1905. Her work uses this census and the supplementary archival sources to investigate to what degree the Jerusalem of 1905 was culturally segregated or mixed.
Dr. Campos’ project centers around the data provided by the 1905 Ottoman census; supplementary sources such as oral histories, memoirs, court records, newspaper reports, and marriage registries support this data by providing insight into the factors that contributed to the residential patterns displayed in the census. By adopting methodologies from a variety of disciplines, Dr. Campos will be able to capture geographically the ways in which Jerusalemites negotiated and experienced the space of the heterogeneous city and its urban social relationships. She addresses criticisms of GIS projects that claim that the platform is too positivist and quantitative, and does not allow for expertise in the subject matter to show through. Her work compensates for these limitations by adding a qualitative dimension to our understanding of the city; she begins with data and then illustrates and qualifies it with descriptions of lived experiences, cultural meanings, and social relationships. She will create a website that maps the census data in a way that shows inter-communal relationships and the different levels of urban integration and segregation present on the neighborhood, street, building, and household level.
Dr. Campos’ work sheds light on the shift from the religiously, ethnically, and socially mixed neighborhoods present in Jerusalem at the turn of the twentieth century to the segregated geography and segregated neighborhoods of modern Jerusalem. Her work reveals how these changes affected neighborhood residential patterns to help us understand the modern Middle East and other transformations within the city of Jerusalem as it evolved from a mixed to segregated city.
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