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Sunday, June 28, 2009

TweetThis! British Library Studentship: Mapping Palestine

Cartography of Palestine in the Nineteenth Century
Department of Biblical Studies
Project Supervisor(s) Professor Keith Whitelam, University of Sheffield (K.W.Whitelam@sheffield.ac.uk)
Peter Barber, British Library

Application Deadline 30 July 2009

Project title: Mapping Palestine: Cartography of Palestine in the Nineteenth Century

Project description:
The research project will investigate the ways in which maps of Palestine in the nineteenth century, particularly those produced by the British military, played a vital role in the creation of meaning rather than providing passive representations of geographical or historical reality. It is often assumed that the scientific advances of trigonometrically-based cartography, which culminated in the Survey of Western Palestine by Conder and Kitchener, replaced biblically-inspired representations of Palestine. Sir Walter Besant claimed that 'nothing has ever been done for the illustration and right understanding of the historical portions of the Old and New Testament, since the translation into the vulgar tongue, as this great work'. The map is deeply embedded in many reconstructions of Israelite and Palestinian history, lending a seeming factuality, objectivity and authority to narrative descriptions. However, the map, rather than lessening the gap between reality and interpretation, adds another layer to the interpretative process. This project will explore how such maps continued to be instruments of subtle persuasion and will examine carefully their assumptions and rhetorical devices. It will examine the social and political location of the cartographers and those sponsoring their work (e.g. the military, the Palestine Exploration Fund, etc.) in the context of the growth of nationalism, the nation-state, and the development of European overseas expansion. It will utilise the correspondence and private papers of cartographers, along with the paper and minutes of learned societies, in order to understand the influence of these factors on their work.

The British Library contains important maps from the period, particularly from 1850 onwards, that have tended to be overlooked. It also contains important papers relating to the Conder-Kitchener survey in the Map Library (War Office mapping) and the Department of Manuscripts. The project will produce a detailed listing of these and other British mapping of Palestine undertaken by the military along with an analysis of their social and political context and their importance in shaping representations of Palestine within biblical studies.

Professor Whitelam's major research interests are in the history of ancient Palestine and the social and political influences that have shaped the way in which the history of the region has been presented. He has just complete In Pursuit of Palestine's Past: The Rhythms of Time (due 2010) and is editing a volume, Holy Land or Homeland? Models for Constructing the Historic Landscapes of Jesus (ed. Keith W. Whitelam with H. Moxnes and J. Crossley, Sheffield Phoenix Press: Sheffield [due 2010]).

How to apply:

Interested candidates can make informal enquiries to the project supervisor. To apply for this studentship, please refer to the University of Sheffield website at http://www.shef.ac.uk/pgresearch/studentships/concordat.html or http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/jobs
Funding notes:
This is a British Library Studentship.

Students are expected to register from October 2009 for a three year full-time MPhil/PhD degree. Funding includes UK/EU tuition fees, maintenance expenses of £13,290 and training costs.

Overseas students can apply but they will be required to pay the difference in tuition fees.

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