Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910 (Oxford, 2017). (Public Book Presentation)
Public Research Seminar
Joseph Ben Prestel (OIB Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow)
Thursday, 8 March 2018, 6-8 pm
During the second half of the nineteenth century, contemporaries in Berlin and Cairo discussed urban change in remarkably similar terms. Authors in both places claimed that the transformation of their cities affected people’s emotions. They identified specific practices and neighborhoods, such as the entertainment districts around Friedrichstraße and Azbakiyya, as particularly destructive for the feelings of urban dwellers. At the same time, these authors suggested corresponding projects for reform in the German and the Egyptian capital, stressing the positive emotional effects of physical exercise and newly built suburbs.
In his new monograph Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910, Joseph Ben Prestel traces these debates. The book sheds light on the similarity of arguments about urban change and emotions in the two cities. Drawing on this insight, the author questions the separation of Middle Eastern and European urban history. Instead, Emotional Cities proposes a framework for a more global history of urban change during the nineteenth century.
Joseph Ben Prestel is assistant professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) of history at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910 and a co-founder and editor of the Global Urban History Blog (www.globalurbanhistory.com).