Bethlehem Cultural Festival

Planet Bethlehem – Unexpected tales from a small town!

Jacob Norris and Leila Sansour

Historian Jacob Norris and film maker Leila Sansour talk about launching an online archive of the city.  Photo display and Q&A with Mandy Turner.

Jacob Norris

Jacob Norris

Jacob Norris is a Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History at the University of Sussex. His latest research looks at the history of Bethlehem with a focus on the town’s intimate connections to global movements of people, goods and ideas. Jacob is interested in the ways that academic historians can engage with public representations of history. He has worked closely with the British Museum in producing exhibitions and he frequently contributes articles to popular magazines, blogs and newspapers. He is currently writing a book about Bethlehem, “The Global Story of a little Town”. His publications include:

Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development, 1905-1948 (Oxford University Press, 2013).

“Mobile homes: the refashioning of Palestinian merchant homes in the late Ottoman period”, Jerusalem Quarterly (2020).

“Dragomans, tattooists, artists: Palestinian Christians and the Encounters with Catholic Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries”, Journal of Global History (2019).

“Development and Disappointment: Arab approaches to economic modernization in mandate Palestine”, in The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates (2015).

“Exporting the Holy Land: artisans and merchant migrants in Ottoman-era Bethlehem”, Journal of Middle East Migration Studies (2013).

Leila Sansour

Leila Sansour

Leila Sansour is a Palestinian/British filmmaker with more than 24 years of experience working in television as a producer, director and writer. She is best known for her two feature documentaries released across cinemas in the UK and internationally to a high critical acclaim- “Jeremy Hardy vs The Israeli Army” 2003 and “Open Bethlehem” 2014. Before moving into independent films, Leila worked as a producer on Al Jazeera’s leading documentary series “Encounter in Exile” and made several award winning shorts. She holds a masters degree in philosophy and fluently speaks Arabic, English, Russian and French. Parallel to the release of her latest film Leila founded an organisation called “Open Bethlehem”, a project that promotes global engagement with Bethlehem as a doorway into Palestine. The film has resulted in the gathering of an extensive archive of the city. This archive is about to be launched as an online resource in collaboration with Sussex university under the name Planet Bethlehem. Leila has toured extensively with her films and has presented her work at cinemas, universities, the Royal Geographical society (UK), the British parliament, The Royal college of Defense (UK) and at the US congress.

Mandy Turner

Mandy Turner

Mandy Turner is Professor of Conflict, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Director of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) at the University of Manchester, UK. Before joining the HCRI in January 2020, Mandy was the Director of the Kenyon Institute, the British Academy research centre in East Jerusalem for eight years. Her research focuses on the politics of international intervention, the political economy of development in war-torn societies, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Mandy has conducted research for the UN and several governments on issues related to conflict and development, and has published widely on these issues.

Her recent publications include:

“Behind the Big Blue Gate: the Kenyon Institute, a British Eccentricity in Sheikh Jarrah”, Jerusalem Quarterly. Issue 82 (2020).

From the River to the Sea: Palestine and Israel in the Shadow of ‘Peace’ (Lanham MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019).

The Politics of International Intervention: The Tyranny of Peace, co-edited with Florian P. Kühn (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).   “Israel-Palestine After Oslo: Mapping Transformations and Alternatives in a Time of Deepening Crisis”, co-edited with Cherine Hussein, special issue of Conflict, Security & Development, 15:5, 2015.  

Decolonizing Palestinian Political Economy: De-development and Beyond, co-edited with Omar Shweiki (Basingstoke: PalgraveMacmillan, 2014).