Calls for Papers/Feb 14, 2023

Jerusalem: From the Umbilicus Mundi to the Four Corners of the Earth and Back

Jerusalem: From the Umbilicus Mundi to the Four Corners of the Earth and Back lead image

Jerusalem: From the Umbilicus Mundi to the Four Corners of the Earth and Back, Jerusalem, July 11–14, 2023

Jerusalem is regarded as the center of the world (Umbilicus Mundi) in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. The conference will focus on two aspects of this concept’s influence on the city’s history: Jerusalem as the focus of attraction and an object for external influence, and the role of the city as a source of inspiration and influence in wide circles in all four corners of the earth.

The link to Jerusalem was a central value in the Jewish world, both when the Jewish People lived in its land and in the years of exile. Christianity also adopted the idea of the centrality of Jerusalem; the city was later also accorded a central status in the Muslim world. This attention, both terrestrial and spiritual, was expressed in struggles for control over the city and its holy sites, in architecture and building in the city itself, and in architectural imitations of Jerusalem the world over. The status of Jerusalem is reflected in literary and cultural works written about it, in artistic representations of Jerusalem that were created in far-away places, and in the export of holy souvenirs and artistic artifacts made in Jerusalem and distributed widely abroad. In addition, many cities throughout the world sought to be regarded as alternative Jerusalem. Thus, Vilna was regarded by Jews as “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” Fez as “Jerusalem of Morocco,” and Byzantium by the Christians as the “New Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem and sites within the city are also featured in remote places, such as Africa (Ethiopia, for example), Asia, and America.

Therefore, the conference will focus on three main topics: Jerusalem as Umbilicus Mundi in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; the influence of the city in wide circles throughout the world, and external influences on the city over time. The international conference will be held at Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi between July 11-14, 2023, and will include three days of lectures and a half-day tour (Friday, July 14).

We welcome proposals for lectures and sessions on the topics listed below. Additional topics will be received gladly.

From Jerusalem to the four corners of the earth

  • “For the Torah shall come forth from Zion:” The “export” of religious-philosophical ideas from Jerusalem – the monotheistic idea, the morality of the Prophets, the ideas of justice and world peace, Messianism and redemption in the Jewish and Christian world.
  • The sanctity of Jerusalem and its meaning in the three monotheistic religions, on the scale between reality, a spiritual concept and utopia.
  • Jerusalem as a subject and a theme in music, literature and art.
  • Jerusalem the world over: on cities that were regarded as “the New Jerusalem:” Constantinople, Prague, Moscow and its environs, cities in Ethiopia, Armenia, Georgia and more.
  • Replicas of buildings, monuments, streets and views of Jerusalem in the four corners of the earth.
  • Representations of Jerusalem all over the world: Jerusalem in maps, realistic and imaginary models.
  • Jerusalem studies: local scholars and scholars from abroad who promote the awareness concept of Jerusalem.

From the four corners of the earth to Jerusalem

  • From pre-history to the beginning of monotheism: Jerusalem and surrounding cultures.
  • Real and virtual pilgrimages – cultural, spiritual, social and economic aspects.
  • Jerusalem in the shadow of empires: imperial influences on law, society, culture, and urban design in the city.
  • Architecture imports to Jerusalem, from places such as Ancient Egypt, the Roman-Hellenistic world, the Muslim world, Europe and the “New World.”
  • The influence of urban planning in the past on Jerusalem today: from the planning of Aelia Capitolina to British urban planning.
  • The impact of external influences and technological innovations on material culture and daily life throughout history.

A contemporary view and a look towards the future

  • The development of Jerusalem, present and future; the conception of Jerusalem among all walks of life in the Israeli public and in global public opinion; Jerusalem as a destination for pilgrims and tourists in the 21st century; the historical, cultural, and religious legacies of Jerusalem as an asset for development.
  • Between particularity and universality – proposals for a vision of Jerusalem in the 21st century.

The conference is intended for researchers in the disciplines of history, comparative religion, archaeology, urban planning, art history, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, tourism, and other relevant fields.