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Exhibit unpacks scholarly discourse on Jerusalem
12/14/2017
Safa Jafari Safa  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
The AUB Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Department co-organized a photographic exhibit entitled “Jerusalem: The Sound of Light in Stone,” hosted at the Jafet Library main lobby until December 22, 2017. The exhibit was organized within a few days in response to the recent announcement by US President Donald Trump on Jerusalem, bringing the AUB community together in expressing solidarity with Jerusalem and Palestine. 

Key items on display include a rare 19th century photograph collection that uncovers the beauty of Ottoman Jerusalem, namely the E.W. Blatchford Collection, which was gifted to AUB in the 1920s by Mrs. Howard Bliss who named it after her father, Eliphalet Wickes Blatchford. The collection is mostly constituted of albumen photos produced at the turn of the century by various famous photographers in the region, including Bonfils, Dumas, Sarrafian, Dupré, Amodio, Beato, Zangaki, and Sebah. 

Also on display is a collection of negatives taken in Jerusalem in 1965-67 by famous Armenian photographer Manoug Alemian. Images of people, artisans, small streets, as well as various churches, mosques, and monuments depict the lively beauty and diversity of the city. A collection of postcards from the 1920s until the 1940s shows various angles of the city and sheds light on the way postcards historically contributed to the portrayal of sites and landmarks in the Middle East and to creating a relation between tourists and space, landmarks, and archeological sites during the colonial and post-colonial eras. 

A small album of postcards and dried flowers and herbs from Jerusalem, which was published in the 1920s and distributed to tourists as a souvenir from the city, was also digitized and put on display, a token of the spirituality and love that the city has inspired throughout its history. 

A few early European lithographed imprints about Jerusalem from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish were also on display, next to early Arab imprints about the city, including the famous travelogue to Jerusalem of Al-Shaykh Abd el-Ghani el-Nabulsi el-Dimashki, 1902. 

In addition, a few manuscripts scripted in the Haram el-Sharif in the 16th and early 20th centuries, can be seen on diverse topics ranging from Islamic law to prayers and rituals at Al-Aqsa. Displayed next to those are some statistics issued by the Government of Palestine in 1932; a list of staff members’ names from the period 1932-37; sample issues of the newspaper Palestine edited by Issa Issa in 1935-36; letters from various Arab intellectuals to Dr. Constantine Zurayk describing the deteriorating conditions that were present in the city after the Arab revolt of 1936; reports from the High Arab Commission to the Royal British Commission in Jerusalem in 1937; as well as reports from the representative of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Dr. Izzat Tannous, to the UN in New York in 1957. 

Centrally showcased at the exhibit is an archival audio-visual collection of testimonies with first generation Palestinians and other Palestinian communities in Lebanon. The collection is being digitized, indexed, cataloged, and preserved through a state-of the art digital platform as part of the Palestinian Oral History Archive project at AUB, co-led by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) and the AUB Libraries.
 
Also at the center of the exhibit are photos taken in 2003 and 2005 by photographer journalist George Azar, along with an exquisite portrait of a church goer at the St. Sepulcher Church, 2005. 

The exhibit coincides with a conference organized by IFI and the Institute for Palestine Studies, “100 Years after the Balfour Declaration and 70 Years after the Partition Plan.” It highlights the University Libraries’ holdings on Palestine and Jerusalem and aims to encourage awareness of and critical engagement with the visual and scholarly discourse around Jerusalem and Palestine, catalyzing a renewed, effective, scholarly, and informed discourse that can unpack the historic depth, diversity, and Arab rootedness of Jerusalem at this juncture of modern history. 

"This exhibit captures not only the cultural wealth of Jerusalem but also its significance to the collective memory of all Arabs and their intrinsic attachment to the city,” said FAS Dean Nadia El Cheikh. “AUB's archive collection is an invaluable depository for the understanding of the history of our region."
Story Highlights

  • ​​The AUB Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Department co-organized a photographic exhibit entitled “Jerusalem: The Sound of Light in Stone,” hosted at the Jafet Library main lobby until December 22, 2017. 
  • The exhibit was organized within a few days in response to the recent announcement by US President Donald Trump on Jerusalem, bringing the AUB community together in expressing solidarity with Jerusalem and Palestine. 

 
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