Felicitas Remer is a doctoral research fellow at the graduate school for Global Intellectual History at Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She holds a master’s degree in Global History from Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and a bachelor’s degree in History, Philosophy and Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin. During her master’s, Felicitas spent one year studying Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her thesis focused on the cultural geographies underlying Zionist thought, exploring the usage of the categories “urban” and “rural” and their interrelations with broader concepts of East and West or Europe and the Levant in early twentieth-century Zionist discourse. Before beginning her doctoral research, Felicitas worked as a program coordinator for Germany Close Up, an educational youth encounter program for Jewish North American students and young professionals funded by the Transatlantic Program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
Geographies in Transition: Negotiating National Belonging in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 1908-1948
Sitting at the intersection of Urban History and Global Intellectual History, Felicitas’ project focuses on the history of Tel Aviv-Jaffa in the first half of the twentieth century. Between 1908 and 1948, Tel Aviv grew from a small suburb into a metropole of 230,000 inhabitants, gradually replacing its ancient mother city Jaffa as the urban center dominating the region. The process of Tel Aviv’s overpowering of Jaffa, however, was not always smooth or uncontested, but rather marked by sustained interactions, contradictions and simultaneities – and it was accompanied by a continuous stream of debate, commentary and critique. This urban discourse, consisting of newspaper articles and political commentary, memoirs or literary narrative, sought to (re)define the urban identities of both cities in light of their changing relationship with each other – and in relation to widened geographical imaginations brought about by globalization and geopolitical upheaval. The project aims to shed light on these alternative and overlapping geographical units of reference available to the Jewish/Zionist and Palestinian Arab historical actors, such as the global categories of East and West, but also the Ottoman Empire, Greater Syria or Europe. It examines how they were experienced, debated in and applied to the cities and how they eventually gave way to the nation, as the Jaffa-Tel Aviv border itself became a frontier in the national conflict. The urban history of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is thus used as a lens through which to trace the slippages and tensions underlying the transition from empire to nation under the condition of a growing global consciousness.