Two New Publications for NES Graduate Student Zach Foster

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016

Fifth-year Ph.D. graduate student Zach Foster has published two articles. The first, “Was Jerusalem Part of Palestine? The Forgotten City of Ramla, 900–1900,” appeared online on February 6 in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Its abstract follows:

“When the Muslims conquered the Levant in the seventh century they at times changed the meaning of ‘Palestine’. They preserved its erstwhile sense as a region but also came to see Palestine as synonymous with the city of Ramla. From the tenth to the early twentieth century, dozens of Muslim exegetes, travellers and chroniclers explained that Ramla and Palestine were the same place. Others thought Palestine was a small region based around Ramla, one that did not include Jerusalem, or that Palestine had much more to do with Ramla than it did Jerusalem. The association had much to do with the cultural tendency in the Arab Middle East to conflate cities and regions as well as the critical role Ramla played in Palestine for much of its history: it served as the capital of the District of Palestine for more than three centuries, its economic hub for many more and its imagined geographical centre up until the early nineteenth century.”

To read this article click here.


The second article, “The Origins of Modern Palestine in Ottoman Documents,” appeared February 9 in Palestine Square: The Blog of the Institute for Palestinian Studies. The article begins:

“In July 1872, the Ottoman government carved out an independent administrative district based in Jerusalem subject to direct rule from Istanbul, elevating the status of the city to a provincial capital.

“We do not know how the local population reacted,” wrote the historian Johann Büssow of the administrative change. “Documentation of local public opinion is only fragmentary,” he added.

But amidst the 150 million some documents preserved in the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul lie a number of critical clues, including a July 1872 note signed by sixty of Jerusalem’s most prominent Muslim dignitaries.

This document will help historians piece together the fragments. It represents a rare glimpse into the prevailing sentiments at a time when historians have long struggled to find sources that speak to popular attitudes, identities and loyalties in the city.”

To read this article in its entirety click here.