Palestinian Rituals of Identity: The Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948

18 May 2022

This talk summarises the main arguments in Awad Halabi’s forthcoming book, Palestinian Rituals of Identity: The Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948 (University of Texas Press, late 2022).

The work focuses on the festival (mawsim) that honours the 13th century shrine of the Prophet Moses (maqam al-Nabi Musa) located south of Jericho, Moses’s reputed tomb. In the mid-19th century, though, festival organisers in Jerusalem organised a ceremony based in Jerusalem. They transformed the festival from traditional worship centered at the shrine to a large, public, civic ceremony centered in Jerusalem.

Awad’s talk discusses how each social group involved in the ceremonies (Ottoman officials, British colonial officials, urban notables, religious officials, Palestinian nationalist leaders, Arab nationalist youth, villagers, women, Sufis, and anti-Zionist communist Jews) each attempted to control the symbols of the festival. These symbols included the ritual actors, rites, images, rhetoric, and processional routes. Awad examines how each group that attempted to control these ritual symbols promoted their unique understanding of politics, colonialism, modernity, identity, Islam, and gender in Palestine from 1850 to 1948.

(c) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, Pass Up Gethseman

About the speaker: 

Awad Halabi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Wright State University in Dayton, OH, teaching classes on Middle Eastern history. He is the coordinator of the minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. He has published articles in edited books and the Jerusalem Quarterly and the Journal of Palestine Studies. He conducted his doctoral work at the University of Toronto.

Webinar recordings

Watch the webinar on our YouTube channel or listen to the podcast.

Rituals of identity, the prophet Moses festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948 by CBRL Sound (