This ERC funded project explores social and cultural dynamics in the Palestine region between 1880 and 1920, analysing largely untapped data.

In the Eastern Mediterranean region, the four decades between 1880 and 1920 were marked by European imperialism, Ottoman state building and globalisation. They were also an era of profound social differentiation, driven, among other things, by human mobility and migration on an unprecedented scale. Accordingly, numerous social formations that have often remained relevant to the present day have their roots in this epoch, such as specific forms of settlement or ethno-religious communities.

The research project “Late Ottoman Palestinians” (LOOP) studies these processes on the basis of hitherto largely unexplored Ottoman census data on the region of Palestine. In combination with other sources, the census provides insights into social categories as well as spaces and places that have so far been neglected by researchers. These include women, children or craftsmen as well as rural market centres and informal urban settlements.

The central research question is which strategies of action the inhabitants of Palestine pursued – across categories such as gender, language or religion – in order to cope with challenges on an individual or collective scale. For example, how did they react to economic stress, to what extent did they practice birth control, and how did migrants try to gain a foothold in a new environment?

The main goal of the project is to develop empirically based models that can be used to compare social strategies within the region and beyond. Sub-projects on the genesis of the census and on quantitative-statistical analyses open up additional perspectives.

Project Team

Image: People at Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, c. 1915. Photographs are important sources for the reconstruction of past lifestyles. Source: Bain News Service, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-25940.