European History, Middle Eastern History, Urban History
Joseph Ben Prestel is Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) of History at Freie Universität Berlin. He received his PhD in modern history from FU Berlin in April 2015. Before joining FU’s history department, he held a position as pre-doctoral researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions within Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
Joseph’s research and teaching focus on global and urban history as well as the histories of Europe and the Middle East during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His first monograph is scheduled for publication with Oxford University Press in fall 2017. In it, he examines the parallel rise of arguments about specifically urban emotions in Berlin and Cairo during the second half of the nineteenth century. Joseph’s current research project analyzes the entangled history of West Germany and the “Arab World” in the 1970s. He is a co-founder and editor of the Global Urban History Blog. Joseph tweets under @jbprestel.
This project examines the entangled history of West Germany and the “Arab World” during the 1970s. In the history of the Federal Republic, this decade marked a rupture. Scholars have argued that a series of events and processes including the 1973 oil crisis, the end of bilateral agreements on labor migration, the rise of terrorism, and the end of a euphoria for state-centered planning ushered in a new era in German history. Many of these dynamics were intimately tied to Arab countries. The 1973 oil crisis, for instance, was the result of Arab countries’ export limitations on oil in reaction to the October War. Following this event, West German newspapers and magazines brimmed with portrayals of “Arabs,” whose rise in wealth was depicted as a result of the crisis.
In West Germany, the concept of the “Arab World” was used as a short hand for relations with different countries in North Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, this concept was actively mobilized in self-descriptions. Based on ideas of Pan-Arabism, contemporaries could also read about the “Arab World” (al-ʿAlam al-ʿArabi) in Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, or Jordanian publications. It was specific events and processes that brought the “Arab World” into the focus of West German history during the 1970s. These events and processes were, however, predicated on a history of relations that reached more than a decade back. Contemporary sources illustrate that the ties between both German states and Arab countries multiplied significantly during the 1960s. Situating West Germany’s Arab 1970s in a wider historical context, my project seeks to investigate how the “Arab World” came to play such a prominent role in the Federal Republic during this decade.
“Gefühle in der Friedrichstraße: Eine emotionshistorische Perspektive auf die Produktion eines Stadtraums.” sub\urban: Zeitschrift für kritische Stadtforschung 3: 23-42.
“Hierarchies of Happiness: Railway Infrastructure and Suburban Subject Formation in Berlin and Cairo around 1900.” City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 19: 322-331.
“Die Reform der Stadtmänner: Urbaner Wandel und Körperpolitik in Kairo am Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts.” Body Politics: Zeitschrift für Körpergeschichte 1: 323-346.
Review Essay on Writing History in the Global Era by Lynn Hunt and Deutsche Zeitgeschichte – transnational edited by Alexander Gallus, Axel Schildt, and Detlef Siegfried. Sehepunkte: Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaft 16.
“Paris Everywhere? The Challenge of Eurocentrism in Global Urban History.” Global Urban History Blog, April 5.
Book Review of Individuality and Modernity in Berlin: Self and Society from Weimar to the Wall by Moritz Föllmer. German Historical Institute London Bulletin 37: 100-104.
“Muhammad Ali Street and the Shifting Symbolism of Cairo’s Cityscape.” Cairobserver, February 5.