Archives and Potentiality in Jordanian Jerusalem (1948–67)
potential history
Harat al-Maghariba
Palestinian refugees

The history of Jerusalem through the Jordanian period is still largely unexplored by historiography. Generally overlooked and presented as an “immobile” or “declining” age, a mere transition between the Mandate rule and the Israeli occupation, Lemire and Rioli point out that instead it constitutes a dynamic phase of profound transformations and projects attempted by the public and private institutions in the city in the tragic aftermath of the war for Palestine. New studies have recently enlightened the life of the Jerusalem municipality during this period. This paper aims at focusing on three main aspects: first, can historians narrate a “potential history” of the Jordanian period? How would this “potential history” differ from that retraced during the late Ottoman and Mandate periods? Are Jerusalem’s archives a “space of possibility”? Second, which expectations and projects, conflicts, and desires emerge from the city inhabitants, refugees, and institutions? Third, focusing on a specific neighborhood, al-Maghariba quarter, is this phase simply a period of “predestruction,” to be analyzed under the somber light of the 1967 events, or rather a time of restoration and re-foundation, of tensions and impulses? Through these questions, the authors intend to propose some strands for social histories of the 1947–67 period, opening new itineraries to review a crucial phase of Jerusalem history.

Author biography: 

Vincent Lemire is the author of Au pied du mur: Vie et mort du quartier maghrebin de Jérusalem (1187–1967) (Paris: Seuil, 2022).

Maria Chiara Rioli is the author of A Liminal Church: Refugees, Conversions, and the Latin Diocese of Jerusalem, 1946–1956 (Leiden: Brill, 2020).

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