Year of the Locust: The Great War and the Erasure of Palestine's Ottoman Past
The Institute of Jerusalem Studies and Institute for Palestine Studies
Publication Year: 
Number of Pages: 
الحرب العظمى
الحرب العالمية الاولى
الدولة العثمانية
العسكري احسان
علي روشن بيك

The hero of our story is Ihsan Hasan al-Turjman (1893-1917), an ordinary recruit in the Ottoman military headquarters in Jerusalem. His life was short and uneventful, having served as a clerk in the Logistics Department (Manzil), and briefly as a foot soldier in Nablus and Hebron, but his observations on the manner in which the succession of military events impacted his relationship to his city and his nation, are without parallel. The power of these diaries lie in their exposure of the texture of daily life, long buried into the political rhetoric of nationalist discourse, and in the restoration of a world that has been hidden by subsequent denigration of the Ottoman past—the life of communitarian alleys, of obliterated neighborhoods, of heated political debates projecting possibilities that no longer exist, and the voices of street actors silenced by elite memoirs: soldiers, peddlers, prostitutes, and vagabonds. By the third year of the war the diaries project a desperate search for normalcy daily life — normalcy that was experienced in pre-war Ottoman Palestine, but seems to have eluded its citizens for the next hundred years.


Salim Tamari is IPS senior fellow and the former director of the IPS-affiliated Institute of Jerusalem Studies. He is editor of Jerusalem Quarterly and Hawliyyat al Quds.

He is professor of sociology at Birzeit University and an adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He has authored several works on urban culture, political sociology, biography and social history, and the social history of the Eastern Mediterranean. Recent publications include: Year of the Locust: Palestine and Syria during WWI (UC Press, 2010); Ihsan's War: The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Soldier (IPS, Beirut, 2008); The Mountain Against the Sea (University of California Press, 2008); Biography and Social History of Bilad al Sham (edited with I. Nassar,2007, Beirut IPS); Pilgrims, Lepers, and Stuffed Cabbage: Essays on Jerusalem's Cultural History (edited, with I. Nassar, IJS, 2005) and Essays on the Cultural History of Ottoman and Mandate Jerusalem (editor, IJS, 2005). Tamari has served as visiting professor, University of California at Berkeley (2005, 2007, 2008); Eric Lane Fellow, Cambridge University (2008); lecturer in Mediterranean Studies Venice University (2002-present); among other posts.