European History, Middle Eastern History, Urban History
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Joseph Ben Prestel is Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) of History at Freie Universität Berlin. He received his PhD from the same institution in April 2015. Before joining Freie Universität’s history department, he held a position at the Center for the History of Emotions within Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development. He has received fellowships from the Max Planck Society, the American University in Cairo, the University of Cambridge, and the Orient Institut Beirut. During the academic year 2018-19, he was a Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University.
Joseph’s research and teaching focus on modern global and urban history with an emphasis on the entangled history of Europe and the Middle East. His first book Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910 (Oxford UP, 2017) is the co-winner of the Urban History Assocation's 2017-18 Best Book Award (non-North American). 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. An Arabic translation of the book is forthcoming. Joseph’s current research project analyzes the networks that connected Palestinians and the West German radical left between the late 1950s and the early 1980s. He is a co-founder of the Global Urban History Project and a co-editor of the new Cambridge Elements in Global Urban History.
Winter Semester 2019/20
Summer Semester 2018
Winter Semester 2016/17
Summer Semester 2016
Winter Semester 2015/16
Summer Semester 2015
The Palestinian cause occupies a prominent place in the history of West Germany. Following the Six Day War, a new, radical left formed in the country, which adopted an increasingly anti‑Zionist stance. During the 1970s, armed groups like the Red Army Faction developed close ties to Palestinian organizations, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Palestine Solidarity Committees mushroomed at West German universities and the kufiya, dubbed the “Palestinian scarf,” became a popular fashion accessory in the radical left.
This project draws on Arabic sources to provide a new vista on the solidarity movement with Palestinians in West Germany. Based on oral history interviews and archival research in Lebanon and Germany, it asks how our understanding of the solidarity movement’s past changes, once we take a Palestinian perspective into account. The project answers this question by examining an untold story of the solidarity movement that starts in the late 1950s, reveals the import of migration for the circulation of political ideas, places West Germany in a global context, and demonstrates how dynamics in settings like Beirut and Amman shaped the country’s new, radical left.
(Co-winner of the 2017-18 Urban History Assocation's Award for Best Book in non-North American History)
Reviews: German History; la vie des idées (English version: books & ideas); Urban History; Storica. Rivista Quadrimestrale; Emotions: History, Culture, Society; Journal of Ottoman Studies; Cromohs. Cyber Review of Modern Historiography; almayadeen.net
"Anthropologists: Feelings in the Field." In Encounters with Emotion: Negotiating Cultural Difference Since Early Modernity, edited by Benno Gammerl, Philipp Nielsen, and Margrit Pernau, 85-109. New York: Berghahn. (together with Pascal Eitler)
“Body Polis - Körpergeschichte und Stadtgeschichte.” Body Politics: Zeitschrift für Körpergeschichte 4: 5-20. (together with Pascal Eitler)
“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.
“Palästina-Solidarität. Bruchstelle einer globalen Linken.” Merkur 839: 61-67.
Book review of Zeitenwende 1979: Als die Welt von heute begann by Frank Bösch. German History 37: 456-458.
“When Threads Wear Thin: The West German Radical Left and Palestinian Groups at the End of the 1970s.” Trafo: Blog for Transregional Research, August 8.
Book review of Islam and the European Empires edited by David Motadel. H-Soz-Kult, March 2.
Book review of 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.